A friend and a fellow writer told me the other day about obtaining Post-Its for use in her plotting process. She suggested that I write down my plotting process, if I had one. I do have one, but it’s hard to pin down and describe.
The best way to describe my method is pantsing with a minimal amount of plotting. I come up with an idea, play with it, stretch it here, compress it there. Instead of scribbling it on paper, I do it all in my head. When i have a rough mental list of scenes I want, I dive in and start writing.
That is exactly what I did for my latest project. While I’m waiting for some feedback on my novel, I decided I’d write down some of the characters backstories. Right now I’m not planning on publishing that, and just wanted a written reference on hand. A couple of people have pointed out that the backstory could be a novel in and of itself. This backstory was something that had been rattling in my head ever since I conceived of the character. So I opened a file and started typing merrily away.
It was going well. I pounded out eight thousand words before grinding to a halt. Something wasn’t right, and I couldn’t put my finger on what. I tried to force my way through this blockage. Words were typed, but they were the wrong words. Monday I had a toothbrush moment. Followed immediately by a face-palm moment.
By rushing into writing without outlining, I had made mistakes that I cannot write my way out of. I would have caught them much earlier if I had taken an evening to do some outlining. Of those eight thousand words, I may be able to use roughly one-third to one-half.
So I have spent one night putting down most of an outline. It’s not complete, and there are holes in it. But it is more of a game plan than I had earlier. And it taught me that despite how bright and shiny the idea is, I need to stop and do some prep work before I dive in, no matter how well I think I know what is going on.