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  • Writer's pictureVendela Ahlström

It doesn't matter how well you plot

I’m a plotter. At least I think I am. I love plotting. I really do. I didn’t know how to plot when I wrote the first draft of Visions of Ravens. Rhee Stacks taught me how to plot as I rewrote the whole thing.

As I got CPs I learnt how to plot and how to make every scene count. I learnt of story structure, got a copy of Save the Cat Writes a Novel, learnt of Scene and Sequel and the Inside Outline. It made a huge difference for me as I revised and improved my MS.

And I loved it. I fell in love with plotting. I started becoming dependant on it.

Then I started drafting Project Codex for NaNoWriMo 2022 and knowing everything that I know now after having done Visions of Ravens I couldn’t help but plot properly from the get go (I will do a full post on how I plotted for Project Codex another time). Plotting for Project Codex was so much fun. I felt like this first half of the story had purpose. Every scene was in there for a reason and as I started writing I felt sure and confident and knew exactly what I was doing.

Towards the 30k mark, however, I encountered a scene that I wasn’t quite in the mood to write and I think it’s because I realised I didn’t actually need that scene. It had a purpose but I could’ve put in that important bit of info in another scene. I write chronologically, but this time I decided to skip the scene and move on. So even though I’d plotted that scene, and put it in for a reason, I decided not to write it.

And slowly I began realising that the chapters that were the strongest were told from a certain character’s point of view. She was the first character I had begun creating for this project. She was the one I knew the best. She had the strongest voice and the most colourful personality. I also realised that, while all the characters were important for the plot, she was quite obviously the most important. So what am I doing? Cutting out the other POVs and only focusing on one POV.

I guess the moral of the story is that no matter how well you (or I, in this case) plot, there will always be things that change in the writing process that we will need to go back and revise. Somethings you only discover and come up with once you start writing and they work their way into the plot when you get into the flow of typing those keys.

I’m not beating myself up about it. I make a note in the margin, on my Scrivener document, or make a comment if it applies to a specific sentence and then I keep going. I used to be such a pantser when I was younger, and even though I love plotting and it’s definitely my way forward and minimises revisions, there are some parts of your story that can only be created by actually writing the story and so it doesn’t matter how much you plot in the end. Some things you can’t decide in advance. Some things you need to be told by your characters as you’re writing a particularly good piece of dialogue. And that’s okay.


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