I wrote this post a year and a half ago (and am still plugging away on the same book). I can say plot starts to make more sense to me the longer I work on a project.
For the last year I’ve been trying to learn how to plot. I’ve read a half dozen books and have tried numerous systems (the Snowflake Method, the Six-Stage Plot Structure, the Nine-Box Plot). My efforts have sometimes been tinged with fear. (Study is often easier for me than starting work on a hazy idea.) While I might have been searching for a Golden System for everything fall into place, I was also legitimately interested in bettering my craft. But I’m not going to lie. Efficiency and speed were also alluring, as was the unspoken idea that real writers buckle down and learn how to make an outline work.
Never, ever do I want to think I’ve got it all figured out. Still, plot eludes me. I know things that have to happen because I’ve set them in motion, but when I try to strategically plan far beyond where I am, everything falls apart.
Last month I talked to my editor, Stacey, about Miraculous. I confessed that the writing was slow and inefficient because I just couldn’t learn how to plot. She asked why I felt I needed to plot if my system is working. I’ve published three novels. Something has to be right! Stacey told me to take the time I need. I got to pick the due date for my first draft (October 1, right after my critique group’s yearly retreat).
I cannot tell you how validating that conversation was (and how huge it is to have such a supportive editor). I try not to compare, but it’s hard not to notice friends who knock out fabulous drafts in a couple of weeks. That’s their system — more power to them! — and this is mine.
I’ve got permission to find this story’s path in the way that works best for me.