Plotting, planning, and the terror of a new story


I’ve been planning a new book for the last while – it’s always hard to say how long for, because some ideas for it have been floating around for several years. But lately I’ve been consciously working on the plan.

But stories are built largely in the subconscious, and so ‘consciously planning’ means a funny kind of working. Sometimes it means staying in bed a few more minutes in the morning, sorting out whether any useful thoughts have come out of my dreams and first waking thoughts.  Sometimes it means putting a question in my mind and taking the dog on a long walk while that question rolls around, and seeing what answers stick to it.
My table this morning
Sometimes it means using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping) to fight the fear of what if there aren’t any answers to this question – or what if this story simply can’t work.
First page of notes for Raven's Mountain/Facing the Mountain
But it still centres around actually jotting down notes, writing out questions and ‘What if?’ answers, drawing maps, looking up random bits of information on google, in encyclopedias, and asking people who might happen to know.
There’ve been vigorous, stimulating conversations with my editor, writing friends and other people involved in the project.
And I can feel the story growing in me, ready and anxious to burst out. There’ll be changes, revisions, huge deletions and redrafting. I usually start a new book thinking, ‘Maybe this time it’ll be right the first time – I’ll write it in a few drafts.’ It’s never happened in under twelve, often closer to twenty, but you never know. Miracles happen.
It’s time to start writing. In the end, that’s the only way a story can grow. 

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