If my agent is reading this, I am deep in the throes of plotting and planning and am working in a study plastered with post-it notes and character flow charts. Everything about my next book is going completely swimmingly and there will be no going off piste. Absolutely not. Not this time.
This time I am going to stick with “the plan”. And there will be a synopsis on your desk. Any day now. Truly.
OK? So you can go back to doing lovely agenty things. Pitching and selling (thank you, thank you) and I will get right down to work. Immediately. Right this minute.
Phew. I think she’s gone.
OK – so for the rest of you. Help me. Please help me. Why oh why do I find this whole plotty, planny synopsisy thing so very difficult? Why - so hard to work in a sensible, disciplined fashion?
I do have an outline. Of course I do. And I do have a synopsis – promise. But I don’t want anyone to see either just yet. Why? Well because the whole thing then becomes sort of toxic to me. A straight jacket. Suffocating. If I think for one moment that I am actually going to HAVE to stick too closely to the plan, then I go all weird.
I always start with THE IDEA, you see. Then the characters. Then the plot sort of follows. And yes – I am sure this is vay vay bad especially as the pages are stacking up. Naughty writer. But whenever I try to steer precisely by my first outline, the characters quite frankly get stroppy.
They peer over my shoulder. You serious? You think we would do that? No way. You need to listen to us, sister.
And so I try to tell them about discipline and order. I watch them shrug. Be it on your head, they say. And so I get a little worried. I listen to them and I get charmed and led astray. And I give in and follow them.
I was just beginning this morning to think that this is clearly my big downfall. The reason I have to do so much editing and that my lovely agent has to take so many deep breaths and have conversations involving patience and saints with me and then later today – Eureka! I found this wonderful interview with my new hero Gillian Flynn. I am reading “Gone Girl” just now ( and yes I know I am behind everyone else but please don’t tell me the ending; nearly there) and she admits – wait for it – that she hates plotting too. That she ends up writing two books for each novel because she has to ditch so much stuff and rewrite and rewrite. I quote: “I wish I could plot more efficiently or stick to an outline, but I just can’t”. Are you hearing this everyone? This is Gillian Flynn saying this. Gillian Flynn.
And OK, so she is a complete genius. Point taken. But at least it is making me feel just a tiny bit better…
So then. Where was I…
Post-it notes? You kidding me.
Time for coffee…
Teresa Driscoll - journalist, author, mother of two and lover of great coffee.