Friday, October 13, 2006
I have a folder full of novel templates, everything from the Hero's Journey to a full schema for writing, from original idea to finished article.
I have to admit I am a planner, that is, I like to have the book planned out before I start. I need to know where my characters are going, what they're going to do and what will happen to them.
But about half way through I usually stop and revise the plan. I know my characters better, what they will do and what they won't do, and the magic has usually given me something else to play with.
That's the beauty of doing series. You can introduce future characters, see if they work, and if not, why not. You can begin their dilemma in one book, as long as "their" book contains a complete story arc. You can get to know them.
But for all the elaborate planning templates, the myriad character charts, plotting charts and the rest, I now do it another way.
I start with a blank screen in Word. I write out the story, just like a synopsis, going from one point to another until it's done. Then I go back and read it through and discover all the weak bits, the plot points that don't work, the TSTL things my characters might have to do, and I fix them. Then I layer back and add some more twists, check the pacing, add "sequels" to the "scenes," and make sure nothing is wasted, and nothing is a waste of time.
Over time, I've simplified. While reviewers still comment on my "complex plots" most seem to like them and they're not half as complicated as they used to be!
And for why? Because I'm writing a ROMANCE! Something I used to forget, taking the chemistry of my central characters for granted and not giving the romance time to move and develop. After all, readers buy them because they are romances, not because they're thrillers, or paranormals, or whatever. So now, everything is concentrated on the central couple.
And the complicated templates that insist that you put the first love scene here, the Black Moment here? Tucked away somewhere. On my next computer clear-out, they'll go into the archives.
Then it's back to the blank screen.