Writing on Writing – Practising Plotting

In this episode of Writing on Writing, I talk about the fact that some of my better stories have been created from blood, sweat and tears as opposed to inspiration that pops out of nowhere.

My method of writing anything with an actual plot that has some degree of accuracy is to draw up a basic plan. Now, I tend to find that planning things in too much detail tends to kill the writing mojo, mostly because it becomes a long list of bullet points that I have to flesh out into scenes, and that takes away about 70% of the fun (this is a precise statistic I have summoned from thin air).

The only problem with this method is that my creativity tends to take my original storyline and fling it off into the distant realms of possibility and make my muse play fetch with it. Once I get to this stage of writing, the entire point of having a plan (giving some coherency to the plot, allowing the story to build at an appropriate pace etc) is flung in the opposite direction of my muse and into the depths of some black hole.

So, one of my challenges for the next year is to not only write longer stories, but to actually adhere to my storyline for once.At the moment, due to time constraints and numerous re reads of Wheel of Time books, my writing is limited to those stories which I can write in a few hours in an evening. This means that they generally turn into stand-alone scenes, rather than those stories with plot.

However, even with that limited time I figure that I can stretch my writing a little bit by swapping up the variety of stories I choose to write in those few hours. The only way any writer (or any artist for that matter) can develop is to take a concept that they loathe doing and practice it until it gets as good as the bits they enjoy doing.

For me, that is working with a plan and attempting to stick to it.

As an experiment a while ago, I wrote a piece that became the teacup story ‘Chase’. This story falls into the category of writing that I struggle with if I’m not in ‘the zone’ (hint: it’s action) as the words seem to fall flat. In order to counter this, I decided to draw a small map on the back of a scrap piece of paper, complete with arrows in one colours and description in another. This allowed me to take away the harder parts of writing action (working out where everyone is and what they’re doing) and focus upon the parts that I enjoy (the description of the characters, focussing on their emotions). Whenever I got stuck at a particular point, I just looked to the map to find out what section I then had to describe next.

Another story I wrote when my muse was not willing to comply with any sort of writing was the teacup story ‘Home’. I do like this story, it’s quaint and simple which makes a nice change from some of the more philosophical teacup stories that I’ve written in the past. It’s a story which allowed me to try a new point of view for a character, this time a younger character who is looking up to his cousin. The change in point of view made me consider some new aspect of how I wrote, especially how to create the awe that my younger character had for his elder cousin for leading them to their homeland.

As I get better in my writing discipline, I like to think that my actual understanding my own writing process becomes a little clearer. It’s nice to try something new and challenging, especially something that makes me really have to think about which words I choose (the topic of my next Writing On Writing).

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