Carefully Laid Plans, Or How They Don’t Really Matter in the End

Writing, at least in my experience, seems to have evolved along a few rather simple lines.

First, I plan. Not extensively, mind you, but just enough so that I know where the story ends as well as a few of the big, crucial moments that mark the road along on the way.

After that, I discover. And that rather broad act can lead to some surprising results.

My two avenues towards writing: planning and discovering (or “plotting” and “pantsing”, as I recently learned) took a pretty big turn this week and I couldn’t be happier with the results. In my original outline for “The Woman in Darkness” (the follow-up to my forthcoming debut novel, “The Girl in the Storm”) I had a loose plan for 22 chapters, but when I realized that the story was stretched a little too thin, I ended up whittling that list down to 18 chapters. The meat of the story is still intact, at least for now, but I realized that sometimes you just don’t need two chapters when one will do the trick.

One of the fun things about discovery is that you can never really predict what will happen when you put yourself in the moment. A couple of nights ago I found out just how true that sentiment really is. Sitting at my computer, deep into writing Chapter 6 of my WIP sequel, I stumbled upon a character that had never appeared to me before. I had no conception of this person before that moment, not in the rudimentary outline I made a while back, not even in the corners of my imagination where all my other characters are waiting. No… she was entirely new. One minute my main character was on her way to meet someone, whose name and story were already well in hand, and up she popped to steal the moment. And boy am I glad she did.

Now, as I turn my eyes to Chapter 9, I have an opportunity to meet this strange new addition a little more closely, and perhaps discover what she has to offer the world shaping up within this decidedly darker tale.

So, what is the moral of this little story?

Plan, at least a little, but don’t be afraid to open yourself up to the possibility that there might be discoveries to make along the way. All the planning in the world will not prepare you for the moment when a story decides it has something else in mind, and in those moments, I find that its best to see where it goes. It might not look like what you had in mind, but it may just end up looking better than you imagined it could be.

On Another Note:

Lately, on my FB page I’ve been sharing some of the wide and varied musical inspirations that have helped me along my journey as a writer. It’s not always a guarantee but sometimes there are moments when I come across a song that fits a character or a scene to perfection. Sometimes I can even identify a concrete reason as to why that song inspired me as it did, but (as with most things I life) that’s not always the case.

Here is another song that, for a reason that I still can’t quite seem to articulate, invokes a connection in my mind with the story of Genevieve. One of these days I think I might figure out what it is exactly, but for now I’ll simply enjoy the fact that music (even if I can’t explain why) inspires the stories I strive to tell.

Published by Christopher Stanfield

Christopher Stanfield is a West Texas native whose love of writing began at the age of fourteen, inspired by a love of mythology, science fiction and fantasy. And though he’s spent the past twenty years in IT for a small bank, writing is the one passion that never quite let go.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: