‘Right,’ said my editor, ‘This time round, how about planning a fairly detailed skeleton of the book before you start writing? That way,’ she added sweetly, ‘we can avoid any complications or snags with the plot right at the start.’
She made it sound so reasonable. ‘Okay,’ I replied in a strangled voice, ‘I’ll certainly give it a go.’ And then I rhythmically banged my head on the wall for several minutes, keening a little at the same time.
The thing is, I’m not really a ‘panter’. Or to use another expression I’ve heard, a ‘discovery writer’. But then I’m not really a classic plotter either. I usually have a rough idea of the overall shape of the book in my mind but with plenty of room for finding new ideas while I’m writing. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to write myself into impossible corners and then spend a great deal of time going backwards and forwards, a bit like when Austin Powers was in that car trying to get out of a miniscule parking space [funniest thing in the whole movie in my view, but I digress]
So what she wants me to do is start with a once sentence pitch. Then, I need to expand it to ten lines. And so on until I have a one page summary. Easy right? Right?
A writer friend helpfully pointed out that this was also known as The Snowflake Method, which you can check out here.
I’ve given it a go and you know what? It has actually helped. A bit. I haven’t gone the whole hog yet. I haven’t actually done anything as insane as getting beyond the third step if I’m really honest. But it has prompted some quite decent ideas that I didn’t have before. I’ve actually started writing before finishing all the steps [shh, don’t tell my editor] but I do feel as though I willl be able to plan the story out more closely now.
If you’re a panter and it works for you, that’s great [she says a bit enviously]. You have no need to try this at all. But if you’re a bit of a panter who eyes those sensible plotter types with their lovely crisp notecards, highlighter pens and nerdy spreadsheets, secretly wishing that a little of their sensible ways would rub off on you, it’s definitely worth a try.