At last the PROPER link to this final week’s competition theme!
Plotting or pantsing: what is best for me?
Well, when I started I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew I had an opening chapter with a bit of drama and a good “hook” line, and an ending with a sort of a cliffhanger. So in my naïveté I reckoned I had all the elements of a good novel. My employment background and leisure pursuits both gave me plenty material to work with, and I thought that the theme (dodgy surgeons) would capture the zeitgeist perfectly. So off I went.
Now, I see from the date stamp on my earliest Word documents, that was 10 years ago, and here I am still struggling. I’ve now got a good cast of interesting characters, immersive scenes and lots of chapters, but still no finished novel. The “plotting” approach has left me with many tricky timeline issues – how long after the inquest should the report be issued? When exactly does Bob’s wife first suspect he’s been unfaithful? What can I write in to separate the two visits to the ITU where the house officer is lying critically ill? It’s got so complicated that I’ve actually resorted to a ribbon of A4 sheets almost 2m long, printed with days of the week, attached to my bookcase, with little sticky arrows that I move around endlessly, trying to make it all fit together sensibly. Aaaargh!
So wouldn’t it all have been much easier (and quicker) if I’d just started at the beginning, “pantsing” along merrily from scene to scene, crisis to crisis, until I reached the end? Too late to change now, and I certainly haven’t given up, and I’m determined that the Big Book will see the light of day before yet another decade has passed. But I’m not sure I can answer the question “what’s best for me”, until I’ve got this one out of the way. I’m not sure my somewhat OCD temperament will allow me to stray from my tight plotting, but perhaps it would be a good discipline for me next time (if there is a next time) to try the alternative. After all, that’s pretty much what I have done for each of the last 12 weeks of Thanet Creative Writers competition entries!
Anyway, that’s enough of this distraction. Now let me see, does the rugby match fit better in week three or week four? And how long before Bob’s wife returns home? Hmm…