I have a plan

August 11, 2010 at 5:04 am (Planning, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m not using it and I haven’t referred to it – but a plan exists. Surely that counts for something.

In case you are wondering what I am talking about, it is the old to plan or not to plan argument in writing. As always, I outline, know where I want to go, and then dutifully ignore any of it and write whatever anyway. From the number of unfinished projects I have stacking up, this may not be the most effective method, but it works for me. I don’t want to lock myself in if I’m not feeling the characters lead me in a certain direction. And I don’t want to be endlessly worried that they haven’t progressed as neatly from point a to point b as I would have liked.

I love to write. I love words. If I can eventually tidy them up enough to make a story, great. If not, I’ll have enjoyed the writing anyway and maybe at some future time I’ll return to the story and figure it all out.

That’s kind of what’s happened at the moment.

I came across a fairly old story (in fact I don’t remember when I started it). I didn’t even have it on my computer any more. I only had the paper copy I printed out. It wasn’t finished and as I was reading it I realised I really wanted to know where this story ended. Only I didn’t remember.

Fortunately I also printed out the plan and included it in the file.

Unfortunately having just read the first act of the story, I realised why I abandoned it. The plan didn’t make any sense. There were entire sub-plots that were clearly leading to X but just didn’t appear in the plan at all. The main character was clearly not motivated by D but by P and those two characters over there were as likely to be conspiring as a spider with a fly. I’d had a plan but the way I’d written that first act just made the plan entirely irrelevant. The story was better than the original plan and the characters a great deal more interesting but it made the second act almost impossible to write without an entire overhaul of the over all goal of the story.

So now I need to figure out where the story should be going and how I’m going to get it there and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get it written. I’m not going to commit myself to it but I have a strong feeling that I’m going to spend quite a number of sleepless nights thinking about it in the near future.



  1. Carol Ann Hoel said,

    I love to write, too, Cassandra. Sometimes the words flow and the patter on the keypad cannot keep up with the story unfolding in my mind. Then at other times, this is not so. It is a great idea to save unfinished projects. Perhaps this one will take on a new life for you as you think about it.

  2. Lynn Rush said,


    “… strong feeling that I’m going to spend quite a number of sleepless nights…” that sentence pretty much sums up my plans when it comes to writing. LOL.

    Thinking about the story and writing it usually keep me up all hours of the night until I get the story done! I’m sure something’ll come to you and it’ll turn out to be a great story.

    So, write on, my friend.

  3. Carol Kilgore said,

    Good luck. I usually begin with a very sketchy plan. Sometimes I even stick to it.

  4. AlexJ said,

    Consider it a new challenge! Who knows where the story will lead now?

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Hopefully I’ll know where the story will lead now after I get my head around a few things.

  5. elisajeglin said,

    I like to sit down and type out as much as I can when a new story hits. Then somewhere between 20,000 to 40,000 words I’ll get stuck, look back at everything I’ve written and devise a very loose outline from there. I’ve dicovered wriitng the outline in the middle of the process really helps me ring out all of my creative juices and unruly characters before confining them. It also makes it easier to plot the story once a good majority of it has been written…at least for me. I can see what I have and I can then see where it should be and how I should get there. Good luck, I hope you don’t have too many sleepless nights.

  6. Alex Willging said,

    I say come back to the idea later, especially if you have other things to work on. I’ve found that I usually need to rework a story idea a few times over before I consider writing it out. And good luck!

  7. Lua said,

    I’m all for the ‘plan’- I like planning my story, and I write long, detailed outlines before I start to write the actual book. But if there is a problem somewhere that I can’t seem to solve, I leave it. Because the chances are the story will change a little until I get there and I’ll know what will happen next. You can never stick to the plan %100 🙂

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Plus you probably shouldn’t stick to a failed plan. Continuing with a failed plan doesn’t seem like it is much of a plan.

  8. Lee R said,

    Sometimes I find it hard to decide whether a story should be abandoned or not. I often (still) think about the characters in my first novel (which is under my bed and abandoned). But it just seemed impossible.

    Unfortunately as writers we’re alone in these decisions. We can’t hold board meetings for them or have people vote. It’s our decision alone.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      But sometimes friends and test readers can help us out. Their reactions can sometimes encourage us to perservere rather than let something go altogether. Othertimes they can help us to cut our losses and move on. Ultimately it is our decision alone but it is always worth asking for a second opinion.

  9. Agatha82 said,

    Good luck with it, it’s funny how old stories can suddenly pop up and makes us go “hmmm” I have one novel in first draft form that I haven’t even looked at since I originally wrote it. God knows what I’ll think of it now. I have a few stories that are so cliche, they were really just good writing exercises and I’ve re-read them and gone “no, never mind”

  10. Steven K. Griffin said,

    I definitely feel your pain…I’ve been kicking around my current story almost 8 months now…it seems every time I feel I’m getting close to completing the outline, I find a new inconsistency that causes me to go back and rework everything.

    I’ve gone through about 10 different plans and keep hoping I’m getting closer to something that works. I’ve slowly realized that half the battle of writing is sticking with it. The hard part is figuring out when to move on and not let “analysis paralysis” get the best of you.

  11. amkuska said,

    Sometimes you just need a pair of fresh eyes. 🙂

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