That planning thing…
Planning the old novel / book thing – and please bear in mind that this is just what I do, and OK: I’ve got a lovely beard (is like a little bird, whrrroooo, whrrrooo), but it may not work for the smooth chinned. For Cold Granite I took a very precise approach to planning. I sat down and held various conversations with the voices in my head and ended up with a lot of little strips of paper that all had ‘something happening’ on them. Then I kinda shuffled them all into some sort of chronological order, taped them all together and thus produced the perfect plot plan. Of course, when I started writing I completely ignored the whole thing after little-bit-of-paper -number-four and started making stuff up. And OK, it kind of followed the sort of, vague pattern those little sticky strips had formed, but only at a distance and not paying that much attention. Stopping to play with a dead squirrel on the way.
But for book 2 I took a much more decisive and draconian approach: Project Plan. Yup, I defined my plot and timelines in terms of a GANTT chart (and the Mysterious D will know what I’m talking about here sad IT project management types that we are). Now technically this is the perfect plot planning medium: you define a number of events and string them together with dependencies. Like ‘Mr Frobisher gets stabbed’ followed by ‘Mr Frobisher gets a post mortem, but it doesn’t fit’ followed by ‘Mr Frobisher gets exhumed with a weasel…’ You can basically define all your separate plotlines as little chains of events and then line them all up and say, “But I want Nurse Emanuel’s surgical evacuation to happen between the stabbing of Mr Frobisher and the surprise discovery of a sharpened hamster in the vestry.” and the faithful old GANTT chart will slide everything out into the right place. Very useful.
Of course I then completely ignored all that, did a mind map on a big sheet of A4 and started writing. And within six sentences had invented a whole new crime to solve and a character who’d need some sort of resolution before the end. NONE OF WHICH was supposed to be there in the first place.
So as far as I can see, for me at least, planning is more about letting the voices in my head know the sort of thing I want to happen. Then they can get on with the important work of making up the lies while I drink endless cups of tea and wonder if Sooty could beat Basil Brush in a fist fight.
PLANNING: can’t beat it.