I think there’s this misconception that the majority of writers just sit at a keyboard and let everything float out of them without even thinking about what they are going to write. It comes from beautiful quotes about writing until you bleed, and going on a journey with your characters.
This mentality tricks new writers into thinking they too need to write from their gut, without any plans; that writing a great story is something which just happens. No one mentions the amount of painful editing that ensues if you do it that way, without any pre-thought at all. No one really talks about the plans, notes and bullet points they’ve made at the start or along the way.
Because it isn’t romantic right?
I could go on…
Plotting your story doesn’t remove the magic, in fact just looking at where stories were born fills you with a little tingle in your gut, right? Planning the ropes, putting ideas onto the page, is like the cauldron to your potion.
Maybe it comes from the many literature classes you’ve likely taken, where they’ve convinced you as the reader to step outside of a book. To become the observer. And any good writer will know that when your reader stops living the book and starts observing the book, the book is no longer magical…in fact it’s where a lot of negative reviews come from.
But that is a reading, not writing.
We need to shake off the misconceptions:
- That you can’t both have a plan AND go on a journey with your characters.
- That you can’t both have a plot idea AND write as if you are bleeding onto the page itself.
- That you loose all magic when you plot.
- That a plot answers all of the stories questions before you begin.
Mostly because it saves us so much time and money later, but partly because you are doing yourself a disservice by believing the hype.
My Twitter feed of writers & authors weighed in on what THEY thought about plotting:
That editing without one takes an age:
That plots are flexible!
That you get more stuff done
That it doesn’t have to take forever to plot
And my favorite quote: You’re 42% more likely to complete a plan if you write it down.
I hope that tells you something about plotting that you might not have known already. Or at least breaks through some of the scary walls writers put up that tell you, you can’t be a reaaaal writer if you plot.
Do you plot your stories? How do you do it?