This is going to get ugly

This year’s muse bombs before: those little gifts from the subconscious. They start off as little details, mere window-dressing on a scene, but on reflection they morph into something huge and wonderful in the story. The closer I get to the end of Dragonheart, the more I can see how enormously these features have influenced the shape of my story.

They didn’t exist in the outline. Lots of things didn’t, of course; it was very basic. More importantly, they didn’t exist in my brain at the outset either, and I don’t think any amount of planning would have unearthed them. They grew out of the story as it unfolded, when I arrived at that place in the telling.

Another one appeared the other day. 83,000 words in, you’d think I’d know everything about my world. But a perfectly innocent sentence came out of a character’s mouth and I looked at what I’d just typed and went “Oh my God – how did I not see that before?”. My whole magic system got turned on its ear.

I know the plotters say that an outline isn’t set in stone. You can change it as you go along. But if you’re going to end up changing 90%, what’s the point of going to the effort of nutting it out beforehand? Dragonheart would be a very different story without the ideas that joined the party along the way, so I don’t think major plotting is the best way for me. Even though it might stop me feeling that my brain is going to explode out my ears.

That’s not to say that I won’t do any planning for Nano. I’m thinking that a happy medium might be to plan the first quarter of the book fairly tightly to get me off to a good start.

After that anything goes. And probably will.

Now I just have to find me a flame-retardant suit for when Demon Duck gets started.

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6 Responses to This is going to get ugly

  1. Jo says:

    Sounds like you need more computers.

  2. Marina says:

    Ssshhh! Don’t say that, the ducklings might hear you! Drama Duck has already started campaigning for her own computer in her bedroom. She’s not even 11 yet.

  3. Jo says:

    Sorry, I’m right behind her. But then I’m a computerholic anyway.

  4. Jaye Patrick says:

    Plotting? For NaNo???? What an intriguing idea… heh, kidding. No, really: kidding!

    Sing it with me: “from small things, big things grow…” Nano takes concentration, regardless of my own laissez-faire attitude. If you got an idea, a couple of characters, run with it.

    Me, I’m writing sequels, in two different series – the world building and motivations are already there, all I gotta do is… write!

    My suggestions with dealing with Demon are the ‘N’ word – tanties now, rather than during Nano – or writing in longhand. If the little D. persists, then a schedule will have to be written up – and I fear you shall be the one to miss time on the computer.

    Good luck with it!

  5. Marina says:

    Jaye, you’re a genius — a schedule! Why didn’t I think of that?

    The situation isn’t quite so dire as I make out, since there are two computers available. One is mine, and I shall be very immature and refuse to share if I haven’t got my daily wordcount done!

    My concern was more that the girls would fight over the other computer. But now that I have seen the light, I’ll get them to draw up a schedule for sharing it(so that I won’t get the blame). Perfect

  6. I have finished a mss and then on the first edit cut out the first 7 chapters, taken the main story and ripped out a major subplot. All in the name of a better storyline. And you know what? It worked, much much better. Just do what you need to.