Monday, 14 January 2013

My Life as a Zebra, by Arthur Dog (The Catch 22 of Planning)

After writing my last book using the Splurge Method, I decided to do something different this time. My new book was going to be planned to the last detail, because proper and meticulous planning is surely the short-cut to success...

The inspiration for Arthur's
 new novel
I had a title, and an idea; all I had to do was fill in the blanks.

And so, in the post Christmas brain drain, I sat down with my pen and paper and an empty space in my head, raring to go; raring to plan. I was excited about the possibilities and wondered what marvelous thoughts would flow onto the page.

But then, instead of writing down a hundred genius ideas, I found myself staring at a blank page whilst slowly losing the will to live.

How could I plan if I didn't know what the story was about?
How could I plan the actions and reactions of my characters if I didn't know them?
How could I get to know them without writing about them?
How could I write about them if I didn't know what the novel was about?

Also by Arthur Dog
"My Life as a Panda" 
Getting, nowhere, and fast, were the only words which sprang to mind.

Other writers don't seem to have problem writing detailed plans, sticking their plot points on an ever increasing number of little cards and putting them in order. Other writers re-arrange those same little cards as more plot points emerge, and alphabetically file the unused cards for later books. Other writers plan in fluent prose, with detailed lists and elaborate pie charts, flow charts, Venn diagrams, plot chains, event bubbles, picture boards, character studies... and so on.

And in the end, I decided to throw rules, planning and caution to the wind and do just what I've always done. I.E. Let my imagination run wild and SPLURGE.

After five days of early mornings and a realistic target of 500 words per day, I  reached the giddy heights of 2,737 words. I kind of know where I am heading with this book now, and as I write, the characters and the plot are taking pretty good shape. I know it will need a massive edit when I get to the end, but hey, writing is re-writing whichever way you start the ball rolling. 

How do you kick start a new writing project?
Just be yourself, Deer. Do whatever
comes naturally...


  1. Ooo, I think that maybe you aren't the only one who struggles with this. Sometimes it's easy to look at the writing giants and try to emulate their magic formulas (because obviously THEIR magic works, right?), but things never seem to turn out as glitter sparky as when we do it. Why? I've seen the formula- it works... just not for me for some reason. My theory is to just write. It doesn't matter how you do it or how it comes out, just write. Writing every day, even if it is drivel, will eventually turn out a book. Sometimes you have to write it wrong to know how to write it right. Sometimes it's just right on the first try. But if you are not writing it out daily you will never know ;)

    1. Stephanie McGenius, You are absolutely right. Love that comment, "...if you are not writing it out daily you will never know."
      So with that in mind... it's back to my WIP. x

  2. I cycle round with various things till a plot emerges. Ideas for individual scenes. Character studies. Those funny mind map things to explore possibilities. But you know I write thrillery type stuff so I do feel the need to nail things down a bit before I start writing in earnest. But it's whatever works for you in the end!

    1. I can only dream of nailing things down... Respect! x

  3. Hi Wendy.
    I think of it like clay modelling. I start with a little lump and squish that around for a bit. Add some more - same colour, brown messes are really depressing. Maybe it starts to look like something so do that for a bit until you know what it's going to be, commit to that and go for it.

    It sort of works.
    Mostly, my way of making a story is very squishy.

    Haven't commented over last few posts but I've enjoyed them all!

    1. I love that analogy. Today I wrote nearly 1,000 words and I suspect that about 899 of them were squishy. :o)

      Thanks for your comment and glad you are enjoying the blog. x

  4. SPLURGE! Today I splurged to the sum of 966 words - all through your inspiration! Go girl - it's the only way!

    1. Hey Nan - you are a champion splurger. Well done. I have managed to splurge a similar amount this week. Slow and steady wins the race eh? (And so nice I am an inspiration. Don't think anyone has ever said that before :) xxx)


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