Friday, 10 June 2011

How not to use a plotting board

Bang on target!

Just a quickie, as I am desperate to keep to my writing schedule.  Amazingly, my new regime has worked, in spite of the fact that my 6.30 am starts  have slipped back to 7.00 am.  I had planned to have finished 20,000 words blocking out the story in the past by the end of today, and here I am, at 21,000+ words, with only a few pages to go, so am bang on target! 

I have been enjoying this stage of writing the time slip, although it is clear that the story has changed and some radical rewriting will have to go on at the next stage, not to mention some major research. 

The Board: much prepared, never used
Still, that was the purpose of the exercise, to find out where the story was going, and inevitably it has veered some way off my original plan.  After carefully writing out scenes on cards, I stuck them all up on a board, as per all the ‘how to’ manuals, and have never looked at it since.  I suspect this means I am at heart a ‘pantser’ and not a ‘plotter’, although normally I am someone who likes to know exactly what I’m going to do and where and when I’ll be doing it.  

It’s interesting how the story develops in the writing, though, and how obvious it becomes that a character has changed or that a scene I thought would be important can go, while another one has to go in.  I’ve been writing the story in the past, and when that’s done (tonight, if I pull my finger out and get on with it), will go back to where I left off the partial and do the same for the story in the present.  Then all I need to do is put it all together and rewrite completely from the start. 

All.  Right. If I think of how much still needs to be done, I can easily start to hyperventilate, so I am closing my mind to it for now and sticking with the small, easily achievable goals.  Am delighted to discover that this is keeping the frenzy at bay … for now!


  1. Anything that keeps frenzy and panic at bay is worthwhile!

    Personally I wonder if we pantsers don't already have those sticky note boards in our brains. We don't need the physical to see them. If that makes sense.

    And the non-physical ones change just as much!

    Yay you on the target being within reach and the next targets will be just as achievable in bite sized chunks, as you say. Go for it Jessica! So exciting to watch your fantastic progress.

  2. Thanks, Trish! The whole writing process is deeply mysterious, I think, whether the story board is a tangible thing or in our heads, as you say. Either way there's a point when the story takes on a momentum of its own, whatever we think about it.

    Small goals have always worked for me as long as they're accompanied by rewards: a coffee, a drink with a friend, an evening watching telly. And the big goal gets a big reward. When I've finished this book, I can go back to Australia ... what better treat to keep me going when things get tough?