Saturday, 25 May 2013

To Plot or Not To Plot - Tamsyn Murray

I'm at that most exciting of writing moments - the start of a new book. I have the usual mix of anticipation and nervousness which accompanies a blank page and a zero word count but this time, I have something else - dread. A deep-seated worry that the book I've had nagging at me for more than nine months is too complex, too demanding and utterly beyond my skills as a writer. Now, I know what you're thinking - we all get that. But this time, the feeling that I can't do the story justice is so strong that I can't dismiss it with Haribo and hard work. So I'm doing the only thing I can: plotting it so much that I know every scene inside and out.

Bad Reviews Ahead...
There are obvious advantages to this approach - I should have the writing equivalent of SatNav to ensure I don't get lost en route to The End and there will be no detours down pretty country lanes lined with flowers and interesting churches. The downside of plotting to the nth degree is that there are no surprises, which takes half the fun out of writing.

My usual approach is to plot a bit but let the story meander occasionally too. It generally works out, although I find I need to know exactly where the middle is going or I lose heart and writing becomes like wading between the Pyramid Stage and the Other Stage at a particularly soggy Glastonbury. So this time, it'll be a bit of a departure.

It got me wondering - how do other writers do it? Are you plotters or pantsers? And do any of you want to write my next book?

6 comments:

Clémentine Beauvais said...

Definitely a plotter here, even though like you I leave myself space to improvise from time to time. But I find synopses indispensable to motivation!

And I would gladly write your next book, but if I can find someone to write mine...

Tam said...

Yes, the synopsis is my bible. And I'm that peculiar creature - an author who likes writing synopses :)

Sold - I'll send you my book idea over. Now, who wants to write Clementine's? This could really catch on...

Anonymous said...

I usually just make it up as I go along, but this time I have explored every inch of the story of line until I can watch it like a film in my head...but that might just be because I am dreaming it and not writing it.. I to am scared I will ruin the whole idea if I try to capture it in words!
Katie

womagwriter said...

I like an outline to work from - rough notes on approximately what will happen in each chapter. I do this on a spreadsheet. And I definitely need to know the ending. So, more of a plotter than a pantser. I'll write Clementine's book. Who's going to write my next one, which takes place in 3 time periods over 120 years?

Tam said...

I know exactly what you mean!

Tam said...

Yes, that's how I usually do it. I have tried winging it but more often than not, it takes longer.

Anyone for Womag's book? Anyone? Anyone?