A New Writing Project and What I’m Doing Differently

So I’ve tried writing a number of things before but I always end up reverting back to poetry. Poetry is what I’ve always written (though not necessarily well), and it’s definitely my comfort zone. However, I have made several attempts at novels, which usually just fizzle out before I even manage halfway.

So I’ve had one novel on the go for nearly two years now; I started it during NaNoWriMo of 2015. I’m at 43,000 words, which is the most I’ve ever got with a novel, and I also love the idea. The problem? I just don’t know where to go with it at this point in the plot. Something needs to happen, but I just can’t think of anything that is worthwhile. The writing itself is poor as well; it’s slow, choppy, and I change my mind mid sentence so often that it would be impossible for anyone other than myself to read it. This will all be sorted out in editing though, so I told myself it doesn’t matter at this point. Realistically, it doesn’t but it’s another thing to think about when I’m writing.

Instead then, of putting it off repeatedly and in fact getting nothing written whatsoever, I have made the conscious decision to put it on the back burner for a while. Whilst some people I imagine would struggle with this idea, it’s definitely the right one for me if I want to actually get writing again – which I desperately do. I had some characters and thoughts in my head for another project, this one a YA contemporary instead of adult dystopian, so I decided to build on them, and build on them I have.

I spent a lot of time developing the characters and their families, adding diversity to the cast and uniqueness to individual characters. I feel as though the uniqueness can be worked on, but I’ve not quite finished planning and I do feel as though smaller details will be added when I’m writing it properly as they always do. However, I’ve made sure to plan development and changes as those often go forgotten as I write.

Planning is the big change I’ve made with this project and the one I’ve put aside. This time I’ve made sure to plan each chapter in detail, and instead of writing ‘talk about x’, I’ve actually made a note of what to say. There are a couple of details that I haven’t quite worked out yet, but I’ll either go back to them before or as I write (when I say minor details they are things like the colour of something etc). With my other project, I’d plan a few chapters ahead and very vaguely, so I had an idea of what was coming but after that I had to go back to planning. I thought this worked for me – and to an extent it did – as there were things I just hadn’t thought of that I thought of later which really added to the plot and took the narrative in a new direction. But it obviously doesn’t truly work because I just stopped. I couldn’t think of anything and I stopped. Lesson learned there, and when I decide eventually where to take it, I will plan the rest a lot more thoroughly.

I’m hoping that because my plan is so detailed, once I finish it, I will be able to get the first draft finished fairly quickly. I’m not necessarily a fast writer and can’t write 10,000 words in a day, but it shouldn’t take me nearly two years. I’ve spent a while on this plan, and I’m not quite finished with it (I’ve got about four chapters left), and I had originally planned to keep it around 40,000 words and a novella. I made the mistake of adding a major plot point in what should have been the penultimate chapter though, so it’s become a novel! It does make the story a lot better though so I’m not complaining. I’m aiming for around 2,500 words per chapter, for reference, though some of the plans make me think that this may be exceeded!

Are there any tips that you have when it comes to planning? I seem to have gone from one extreme (barely planning) to another (massively detailed planning), but I’m hoping it works.

Also, have a cute picture of my dogs swimming when we were on holiday because I didn’t know what picture to take for this post!

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