I have been toying with the idea of pulling out of my archives the chapters of a novel I started about seven years ago. I made it through eight chapters and then realized that I had written myself into a corner. I had no idea on where to take the story and how to resolve it in a satisfying way. I just chucked it all aside.
When I originally wrote the chapters, I was working from the position of letting the plot develop itself. It is the idea that I have seen promoted by various writers and writing experts wherein the novelist intuitively knows where the plot should go and, like magic, the words just flow from the pen or keyboard in the direction of the plot.
That position did not work very well for me.
On the opposite end is the theory that the writer must very precisely set out the plot before starting to write. There are tons of tools on the internet to support this manner of writing. There are storyboarding tips and chapter analysis worksheets to download, and even software packages that somehow help you develop your plot with a click of a mouse. A lot of folks have a lot to say about developing the formulae for successful novel. Hmmmm…..I find the idea of developing a formula plot a bit constraining and not apt to produce a story that is original and unique.
I remember a poet commenting about the process of writing poetry. In starting a poem sometimes “You set out for church, and find yourself at the dog races….” (Naomi Shihab Nye) So maybe the answer for me is somewhere in between. I can attempt to lay out a plot, but be open for course corrections as my intuition directs me.
So maybe I will open up those archives and give the novel another go.
If there are any fiction writers reading this, may I ask how you develop your plots? Please comment below. I am very interested in learning about your process.