When Plots Go Awry

Remember when I said that I plot everything out ahead of time, so that I know exactly where I’m going, and I can pretty much write straight through once I start? Yeah, about that. Not happening this time. Somewhere along the way, Jackie, Nick and crew began to figure out some things before I had originally planned, and because of this, have ended up doing other things I had not plotted. This is probably the norm for many writers. I don’t particularly like to write this way because my flow is constantly interrupted with the fact that I’m just not sure what the characters are doing with some chapters. Flow is an important element for me when writing. When I know what’s coming up, it gives to direction to what I’m currently writing. It helps to set the stage, and my brain is working ahead, seeing how on chapter flows into the next. I like this sense of continuity. But now? I find myself stuck on a chapter, smacking my head on the keyboard trying to figure out exactly what the characters should be and will be doing. When I’m on a 1500 word per day schedule to meet deadline, trying to decipher what should and will be happening next is an issue and a pain in the ass.

I’m what you could call a “muller.” I like to mull things over, chew on them, let them stew in my head, trying things out until I can wrap my mind around exactly what I want to do. This is why I spend so much time in the pre-writing stage of things. It’s how my brain works best. When I don’t get to do that, my writing tends to meander, and I end up with stuff that will need to be edited out later. While editing is a central element to good writing, I try to avoid it as much as I can, mainly by knowing what I’m writing ahead of time. I take even more time on editing because I’m one of those writers who has a very difficult time stepping away from my writing and viewing it objectively without a significant amount of time having passed first. Being on this tight deadline does not give me that luxury. I don’t have a month to let the book sit so I can pull back enough to do some good editing. So, I am now currently staring at my most recent chapter with what amounts to a big, “Uhhhh,” as I frantically attempt to figure out just what the hell is going on and where it’s leading to. My end game has not changed. Certain events are still upcoming as planned, but the path has descended into fog, and the dim light of my brain at the moment is not doing a very good job of lighting the way.

Ah, the life of a writer. This is one of those frustrating times I like to avoid. So, back to the pages, where I will spend today smacking my characters around in the hopes that events will sort themselves and I can get back into the flow of things. Happy reading/writing everyone!

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2 responses to “When Plots Go Awry

  1. I have had that problem before too. I’m a planner as well, so I feel your pain (though I wasn’t under deadline). A couple of times I jumped ahead to the events I knew would occur, then at least I got some headway. Also, sometimes in working out those details I found inspiration for the earlier work.

    However you do it, I hope it all clears up soon!