Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Story Won't Behave

I'm still working on the first draft of the story I started during NaNoWriMo. I know, it's shameful. I wish I were a faster writer, but speed writing isn't my gift.

Back in October, before I wrote anything down, I decided I would try to outline. On November 2 I strayed so far from the outline that it became useless.

So I just wrote.

In December, I started getting a sense of what should happen later in the book. I wrote down a few of these ideas and tried, once again, to stick with the plan.

Then this Monday, I wrote 2000 words in one sitting. Those 2000 words took my story to an entirely new place, a place where many of my December ideas won't work.

The moral of this story: some people are plotters, unfortunately I'm not one of them.

Are you a plotter? If so, are you ever tempted to leave your outline behind?

36 comments:

Renee Collins said...

I'm slow and a plotter. Usually the plot as you go type. I usually start with a rough outline of basic plot points. And then, as I write, I have to plot out the next few scenes coming up before I can write.

I say though, if you could write 2000 words in one sitting, you're doing something right. :)

Jonathon Arntson said...

My mind and fingers move at totally different speeds, so I haven't even considered whether or not I am a plotter. I try to make plot maps and outlines...but yeah.

kathrynjankowski said...

Isn't it amazing where your story can take you, even if it's not what you planned? That said, I've devised an outline for my new draft, just in case.
2,000 words in a day - fabulous!

Mary Campbell said...

I'm new to writing so I don't know what I am, but I do have this story plotted out and I've pretty well stuck to the main ideas I had, but a whole lot of other things of crept in as I make my way through each chapter connecting the dots. Lots of surprises, but they still have led back to the the original main events.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm a plotter and a plodder. (Ha ha!) But I figure it's okay that I'm a little bit slower because I really polish that sucker as I'm going. No, it's not perfect, and yes, I do need revisions but not a ton of them. It works for me and that's the important thing, right?

Erica said...

I know how that goes! I am a little bit of a plotter and a little pantser... I've added stuff to my WIP too, then I had to go back and fill in the gaps!

I'm always tempted to leave the outline, it becomes more of a guide by the end ;o) Great post!

Oh and I'm going to feature your blog next Monday for the Monday Featured Blog ;o)

Mariah Irvin said...

My NaNo book was a fly by the seat of my pants experience. I knew the characters beforehand, but that was the extent of it. The characters and their personal stories had been in my head for months, so it felt natural just to wing it.

Tracy said...

Oh, that's harsh that you've been taken in so many directions! Well, it's not terrible, because I know it sometimes takes a few tries to find the crux of the story, but I always get annoyed with myself when I've written stuff and then had to come at it from a different angle.

I've recently discovered a new way of writing with my most recent middle grade novel: chapter titles. I write a title that describes some main idea, then organize it into the order I think it should go. When I figured this out, I realized I'd been stressing about word count, but now that I've got a (very) mini outline, I've got just the right amount of guidance to at least get that first draft out of the way.

Jemi Fraser said...

I never outline, I like going where the characters decide to go. I like the surprises. I usually have an ending scene in mind, but that's about it. I have no idea how I'll get there, and it doesn't bother me in the least if I end up someplace else :)

Catherine Denton said...

I'm a plotter who leaves a trail of plots behind me.
Winged Writer

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm not a plotter and I'm still working on the first draft on my NaNo novel! We'll get there (and, hey, remember the tortoise and the hare)

Paul Greci said...

The process of writing each of my mss has been a bit different. In general I go with an idea and get the story started, maybe 50 pages or so. Then I stop and do some planning. I've never outlined a story before starting to write, but I've written a story where I didn't stop and plan along the way.

Anissa said...

I am so not a plotter. I did try to plot out this rewrite since I had an idea of which components of the story I wanted to keep. Still, once the actual writing commenced, I left the planning in the dust. Every so often a piece of it will fit, but not much.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I can't leave my outline behind because it tells me what historical events I have to include. But sometimes I shuffle it.

Does that count?

Bane of Anubis said...

I used to be a fast writer. Alas, now I am not.

Aubrie said...

One time, my protagonist fell in love with the wrong man and I had to re write a good deal of the story! I say to follow where the story is going and not where you thought it would go. You're doing the right thing!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I'm a plotter, but to a point. I like to give my story freedom to take me places I didn't expect to go.

Sometimes I want to put my WIP on the naughty step.

~ Wendy

Marybeth Poppins said...

I'm a plotter. I can't help it. I must have a plan!

Janna Qualman said...

Definitely not a plotter here. And I'm slow, too. But it works for us! We have to embrace it, Natalie. Good luck as you continue working!

Jody Hedlund said...

Hey Natalie, I think even if we're plotters, we have to constantly be open to the direction the story takes us as we develop it. I love the new twists and turns, and love when new conflicts crop up!

Patti said...

I plot a little bit, but try to let the story take me where I think it should go. Sometimes I have to back track, but I work best that way.,

Heather Sunseri said...

Very funny. I can relate. I'm very methodical and mathematical in thinking, but outlines never work for me. My stories always go differently than i plan. And I don't think i would have it any other way.

Jill Kemerer said...

I'm so glad you're sticking with it! Who cares if it takes a long time to write? The important thing is it gets finished!

staceyjwarner said...

I am a plotter and often do not leave my story behing. Every small change creates a snowball effect.

Plotting or not plotting, that is the question but as long as you are writing all is well.

much love

Elana Johnson said...

I never plot or outline. I'm always helplessly lost and my drafts must morph from the crap they are into a completely different book. This is usually done with a lot of soda and iTunes, hair ripping and yes, even some cursing. But it's usually worth it. Good luck!

Abby Annis said...

I'm definitely not a plotter. I always have a rough idea of where I want the story to go, but an actual written outline feels so constricting. I've tried. I just can't make it work.

Good luck with your story!

Nicole Ducleroir said...

I need the skeleton of an outline to get started, but then I write by the seat of my pants. My NaNo novel doesn't resemble the outline at all. But I like knowing the outline is there, just the same.

Jessica said...

Sheesh. You think you're slow??? LOL I'm still working on a first draft of a story I started last May. Yeah. It's pathetic and that's why I'm determined to finish soon.
I hope that story starts behaving for you!
(I'm not a plotter either)

Keri Payton said...

I'm a scatterbrain. I never seem to know where I am coming from - or rather, I seem to be coming from so many different places at once. If I had to pick one thing that takes me through the story, it is character. I find a spark of an idea, latch myself onto who the characters are and see where it takes me. The rest I just figure out where and when I can.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I am a plotter. Sometimes I wish I wasn't and I could just 'create' without thinking too hard. But that's not me. LOL

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I've tried, but I am just not built to be a plotter. I wish I could be.

Lisa and Laura said...

Yep, plotters here. But our original outline is unrecognizable after we're through. We turn down a lot of unpaved roads.

Christine Danek said...

I am new to the whole writing thing so I just went with what came natural to me. I have not written an outline for my current novel. Everything has come at me in different parts and I have just let the characters guide me. I am not sure if that same method will always work for me in the future. :)

Vonna said...

I'm a plotter, but a while back, I read a blog by some crazily prolific writer who advised making a thorough outline but to revise it after each chapter is written. Like stacyjwarner said, it's a snowball effect. I save each version of my outline as a separate file in case I don't like the way the changes worked out.

Belle said...

I'm not a plotter, but after having to scrap 30K words of my NaNo novel because on a reread those scenes just didn't work with the vision I had in my head, I have been wishing I was!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Nope. Don't outline and don't plot. I just roll with it. Which is why you'll have to reread some parts of my WIP. It's already changed.

And your new story is adorable. Nothing shameful about it. Keep at it!