To plan or not to plan?


Planning sucks.

Well for me anyway.

When I start a book, I’m a pantser all the way. A writer who just writes the scenes that come to them in no particular order.

But then it gets to a point where I should start assembling these scenes into a story line. So then that’s when I start to plan.

At first, it goes well. I plan out all my chapters, inserting the scenes I have written into each different chapter. Then I will try to come up with new scene ideas to fill in the plot holes and stitch the story together.

This is then the part I hate about planning. The new scenes that I need to write. I don’t hate writing the new scenes. But it’s like I’m pantsing all over again.

For example, at the moment I am working on my third novel. The original title was Daughter of the Sea. With the original story plan in place that title made perfect sense.

As I start writing out the new scenes, I realise that I have to move some of the existing scenes around. Or when the new scenes are drafted they become a whole new chapter. So the preceding chapters then need to be re-organised.

Or the chapter becomes so large that it needs to be split into shorter chapters. Then re-written in parts so the new split chapters will read seamlessly.

So then my planning pages becomes messy. Whiting out chapter descriptions and re-writing the new ones. Changing the order of chapter numbers.

It all ends up looking like a dog’s breakfast.

There is also another problem I am facing with Daughter of the Sea's carefully laid out plan. When I look at the plan, I realise that a pivotal scene cannot happen in just the one chapter that I had originally thought. The character’s decision that she needs to make, needs more of a lead up to it so that the reader can understand why.

So now the Daughter of the Sea, has a new title: The Queen’s Alliance and could possibly be split into two books. The series now being called “Daughters of the Sea”.

After a while, I began to realise I hated planning because of how I was doing my chapter plan.

I love to hand write my rough drafts (you can read all about that post here)

So I thought handwriting the chapter plans would also work. I was wrong.

It was my husband who suggested that I do it electronically.

Well I’ve heard Scrivener is good for that but a nightmare to learn. But then a thought occurred to me.

In my previous job, I was an Administration Officer. One task that I had to complete a lot of was creating spreadsheets on Excel.

So then it hit me. Why not do the chapter plans on Excel?

That way I could move the data cells around without using white out and post it notes. I could even add a running total of my word count in another column.

Genius!

Yes, at first it was. But again, I’m still having trouble with my story plan. Pushing chapters back and re-numbering previous chapters. I think my muse likes to torture me throwing new scenes at me all the time.

But I’ll stick to the Excel spreadsheet though. It is working out a lot better.

After all I do need some order for the chaos.

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