Plotting and planning and Hilda

Yes, dear reader,

I’m still here. And let me explain about the title of this post.

Plotting

plottingI’ve taken up this ‘plotting’ thing many writers are dedicated to. It means you sit down and first work out how a story will go before you get it going. I’ve found there are advantages to it. It takes the surprises and blind spots out of many parts of a story. That may sound brilliant but having the surprises taken out of a story isn’t so good. I like my surprises. They’re part of the fun, the shock and the journey I take together with the victims I write about. Of course I didn’t mean that; they’re my valued characters who unfortunately end up in places and situations of ‘interest’.

Planning

BoringNow this is something I might need to look into. I’m always working on a bunch of stories. At the moment I think it’s 5 or 6. Planning might actually help to get some insight on where I am and what I should do.

Planning however is boring and takes time. Time I can use better, like for writing. Or perhaps plotting, which also eats up quite some time. I have yet to find a convincing argument for planning, so let’s leave it at that and move on to the most interesting part of this post.

Hilda

Hilda The Wicked WitchThe Hilda stories are those that will never be planned or plotted.  N-E-V-E-R, do you hear me?

Hilda’s adventures are, in a way, my own adventures. The best kind, where magic, life and fairy tales come together. Is there a better combination?

I love this witch and her circle of family, friends, acquaintances and other people who hang around for some reason or other. I’m proud of her. I have a large canvas picture of her hanging from my wall.

There has to be a benefit to plotting and planning because so many people do it. Some stories however aren’t meant to be plotted. They are travels to uncharted lands, over trails so far undiscovered.

In a few days I’ll find out if the plotting business will work for me. Then Nanowrimo starts, and I’ve done a lot of figuring out for that. Plotting. And planning, if you will, although that’s just minimal.

We’ll see how it works. Or not.

 

The plotting pantser, or how a non-planner writes down plans

Dear reader,

Sometimes the impossible becomes possible. I just reached a point in a story where I really didn’t know which side I had to turn. There were too many involved groups of people handing me too many possible outcomes. This doesn’t happen often, so I was thrown out of my own loop. This, I can tell you, is something very serious.

I tried to reason my way out of things with a few characters, but they all were too busily engaged in the story to pay me any mind (being ignored by your own inventions is also bad), so I had to resort to something dramatic.

Example of a Plan. Not mine, I promise!

I had to write down a plan! Horror, shock, this is entirely out of my realm and league! Still I sat down and wrote the plan. First I inventoried everyone I had in the story, and where they were, and what they wanted. I ended up with 9 factions. Sheesh, where did they all come from?? I started doing a bit of Sherlock Holmesing and managed to eliminate 3 of them, so the picture became a bit clearer. Then I set off to write down the wants and hopes of each group. I had no idea that this was so interesting to do! As I was working on that I slowly found out which group of people in the story had the same idea of the end as I did. That put my nose in the right wind. I now knew which group I had to root for!

After that success I treated myself to a fresh cup of tea, and the cats to a snack, and now we’re all happy. At least I think the cats are happy too; they’re staring at me while they sit near the cupboard that hides the snacks…

My writing plan

Dear reader,

I’ve changed my writing ‘system’. (Didn’t even know I had one, but okay.) Until a while ago I just grabbed a story that I fancied and wrote more in that. That does have the drawback that other good stories (that are not so easy to write) will remain untouched to gather dust. I now plan to take on 1 story (or story-set) per week. This week it is the novel of Lily Marin, and so far I have added 2.5 chapters to it already, so it pays off.
No idea what I’ll take on next week. Hilda 12, the two Sebastian scifi stories (same story, I’m writing it in Dutch and English simultaneously), or the fantasy story Rubanna that I’m messing about with since a while, but not on a regular basis.

This way of writing, I think, will keep me into each story more. I noticed that I had to reread a lot of Lily before I was into that storyline again. And I made another discovery: I need to put more of her back-story into the first few chapters. People who haven’t read the 6 short stories shouldn’t be puzzled by references to people from these 6.

Oy. This might mean that I am growing as a writer, making this kind of planning. Well, let’s see if I can stick to it.