Thursday, August 5, 2010

On Plot

Writing my first novel, I have often fought with the issue of plot.  When I first started writing Junya's story, I didn't have much of a plan where he was headed.  I had some vague ideas but I was just interested in seeing what would happen next.  As I described in an earlier blog, to me, writing is a magic process where I am surprised daily with the direction the book takes; the characters are always surprising me, as if they have a life of their own and I am just recording it.

However, after several months of that, I noticed my book and my characters, lacked direction.  All I had was a series of 'scenes' that had no focus.  At that point, I read a quote by Robert Muchamore which stated, basically, that anyone who starts writing without a plan is mental.  And so, I tried using a more detailed plot plan.  While this worked at first and gave me much needed focus, after a while it stopped working because as the book progressed, my characters kept doing unexpected things, driving the plot in a different direction than I'd planned.  What to do?

"In my case, if I start out by thinking about the plot, things don't go well. Small points, such as my impression of what is likely to occur, do come to mind, but I let the rest of the story take its own course. I don't want to spend as long as two years writing a story whose plot I already know."  Haruki Murakami

I read this quote today and I like it.  While a plot plan is helpful, it is too confining.  I've often said I find writing more interesting than watching a movie or TV.  The process itself is interesting and if I knew ahead of time what was going to happen, then writing would just become work, like filling in the blanks.  I think my characters would be flat and without their voices being validated, would probably turn on me.  Like a director, I have to ease their performance out of them.  However, as Murakami also said, I do need to keep in mind what is likely to occur. 

In the end though, I need my editors to get me straightened out.  I have been wondering lately what process I will use for my next novel: Detailed Plot Plan or let it out naturally?  We'll see...

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