I have always struggled with plotting my stories. I think most writers out there have loads of unfinished stories, but these stories remain unfinished for different reasons. I often abandon my stories because I struggle with making the plot seem realistic and logical.
Lately, with my stories, I have noticed that I try to put as much action and storylines in it as I can. It’s not like I go crazy, but I plot out my book so that I know I will have enough to write about. I guess what I need to learn is that ‘less is more.’
Since the beginning of 2018 I have attempted to write three different novels. The first one got to 12,000 words, the next one got to 24,000 words, and the current one is on 7,000 words. I’m a fairly slow writer, I’d say, so it is frustrating to realise that my plot is actually kind of falling apart after having worked on it for several weeks or months. I cannot be writing 24/7, either, because I’m studying full-time and need to put university first.
Am I a plotter or a pantser?
Where plotting is someone who plans what they are going to write, and a pantser is someone who doesn’t, I actually find myself somewhere in the middle. How I usually think of a story is by having an idea randomly, and then building it up in my head as the weeks and months go on. When I think that I have built up my idea enough, I spend an hour or two writing it down. Then I typically don’t start writing it until about a year later, which is pretty stupid, I know.
I guess what I am is a ‘plantser’, which is actually a thing. A plantser is someone who writes a little bit of their idea down, but also makes up other parts of the story as they go. When I have tried being a plotter in the past by planning out an entire novel, I was unable to keep writing when I found a plot hole in the original plan. So by just writing a small plan, at about 1,000 words, I am able to think of new ideas as the story gets written. I find it is easier this way because I am constantly thinking of new ideas for the plot, characters and action as the story progresses. This is just how my brain works – I am envious of those who can plan their novels without making any major changes!
Does my plot make sense?
When I read novels, I am usually able to suspend my disbelief because it’s fiction – the story was never even real in the first place. But the plot does need to be logical and believable. If it isn’t, then I won’t be fully invested in the story and will lose interest fairly quickly. So I want the plot in my story to be the same.
I think, realistically, my current plot does make sense. However, it doesn’t flow like a typical plot would. Most books have a main storyline and sometimes other smaller storylines. Each chapter will connect with the last and not introduce any new major plot points to avoid confusing the reader. Each conflict and storyline in the end will be resolved, thereby making the novel’s overall plot worthwhile. Although I know it is important to bear these points in mind, sometimes it is easy to get lost in your own story and forget that your novel needs to make logical sense.
The main reason why I abandoned my WIP that I had written 24,000 words towards was because there was too much going on. It was more character-driven, which meant I had a lot of characters and everything needed to happen in several years rather than just a few months, like most books. I do think it is possible to write a book like this but perhaps it is a little too difficult for me to do right now. Or perhaps I need to condense the story by cutting out a few years and characters. But that means starting over again.
I’m really into writing at the moment. Unfortunately, though, I’m spending way more time writing my thesis than my WIP. I reserve my writing time for the evening (if I even write at all), and I can only do it if I’ve had a productive day. Say I haven’t done any work for my thesis, and I have instead gone out or worked or something, then I most likely won’t write because I’ll think that instead I should do my thesis (or other uni work).
My current WIP is 7,000 words and I really like the story, but, of course, sometimes the execution makes the idea seem terrible. I have had the idea for probably about a year.
Anyway, I am going to start sharing my thoughts on writing through this diary-entry kind of format on my blog to share my writing journey. I would like to start talking about writing more on here, and I guess I haven’t done it much in the past because it is easier to talk about books. I don’t really know how to talk about writing. I guess I should also share some of my writing, but the reason I don’t is because I always leave things unfinished. Perhaps that will be the topic for my next writing diary!
Do you find plotting stories and sticking to them challenging too?