Monday, August 10, 2015

Perils of the Writer: Reworking the Plan

Of late, I've developed more empathy for the writers of LOST.  
Now, mind you, I've long been a defender of LOST.  Despite its flaws-- which I will discuss at length if prodded-- I think it's possibly one of the finest complete series of television in the medium's history.
And what's the core complaint level at the writers?  "They made it up as they went along."
Well, frankly, that's something you have to do sometimes.  And, as I've discovered, just because you have something planned out doesn't mean that's how it will really go.
Allow me to explain.  Way back when I was first shopping The Thorn of Dentonhill, part of the package my agent and I put together involved outlines for Book II and Book III.  These outlines were written completely in good faith-- this represented exactly what my plan was, as well as its own portion of the Big Crazy Plan.  
So, once Thorn sold, I got to work on turning that outline for Book II into The Alchemy of Chaos.  And while there was a lot more detail and a few new twists that came up over the course of writing it, that original outline remains a fairly accurate skeleton of the finished novel.  
However, this is what I discovered when I sat down to start work on Book III.  The outline wasn't going to work.  I often talk about the outline being a plan on a road map for where a book is going to go, and the actual writing is the drive.  Well, the drive for Alchemy of Chaos didn't quite leave me in the place I thought I was going to go.  (Or, more correctly, I picked up some passengers I hadn't anticipated, so I needed to take them into account.)
Therefore, this past weekend was spent re-tooling the outline.  
Bringing it back to LOST: things happen in the writing that you don't anticipate in the planning.  That's just reality.  Now, do you drive on with the plan, despite it no longer being viable?*  Or do you adjust and find a new path?
Now, in the case of Thorn III, these aren't radical changes.  It's mostly a case where, I originally thought the story was about A, B & C, and now I realize that it's about A, B, D & Q, and B is nowhere near as important as I thought it was going to be.
Adjust and drive on.
*- AKA, the How I Met Your Mother method.

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