This post is February’s Insecure Writers Support Group post. A group created by Alex Cavanaugh. Once a month we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for our fellow writers.
This month, I want to discuss plotting. As in writing the whole novel out in note format before sitting down and typing a word.
My first novel was written completely as a pantser. In my head I knew how it started, I knew the crimes, the main characters and the ending. I just didn’t know how it was going to get from A to B, so I sat down and I typed. In the process of writing the novel, I read a lot of blogs and books on writing and I came across the phrases plotting and pantsing. I hadn’t realised writers worked so differently. It was after all, my first attempt.
This time around I am giving the plotting thing a try. I have notepads and pens. I have an idea. I even have the characters from the last novel, as it’s supposed to be a series, so there is quite a bit to work with. And it was going well. I had my first dead body. I knew how. I had notes on how characters were dealing with events from the last story and how it would bleed in from that one to this one without jarring a new reader.
I then had a massive brick wall.
I think the idea for the crime is too big for me. I don’t think I can do it. Not yet anyway. I will save the idea and use it for a future time, when hopefully I have had more writing experience and can work such a massive plot. But for now, well now I feel I’ve been scribbling away in notepads and haven’t anything to show for it. Plotting may have found an issue before I spent hours and hours typing, but I feel I have no work to show for – well, the work I’ve already put in. If I’d been pantsing, I’d have been forced to type my way through it until it sorted itself out. I would have been more reluctant to recognise my limitations and that may have left a real mess. But, as it is, I feel a little disheartened. There’s a twinkle of an idea glowing on how the first dead body can still be my first dead body, but I feel like I’m having to start from scratch. In the long run, it will probably work out for the better, but for now, I’m frustrated.
If you write, do you prefer to plot before you write, or do you just sit down and see what appears?