Learning about planning

I am approaching my fourth manuscript in a radically different way from my others. I’m not just planning – which I finally decided to do with the last one – I’m PLANNING. I’ve got file cards going on, I have a timeline and family trees and there’s no way I’m going to fill in the research after. Even writing that sounds ridiculous! Who would write about pre-war London and fill in the information about the architecture after?

Well, probably me at one time.

I don’t imagine planning is going to change my world, bring me Aaron Johnson or the elusive trillion-dollar book deal, but I’m not interested in the outcome so much as the process and how great it feels.

With Morning Drink I still find myself thinking about the characters while I’m off doing my right-brain stuff, and have a copious file of extra thoughts I feel compelled to add to the story. I hate feeling as though it is never going to be finished. Of course, even more than that I hate re-writing seven hundred times because I wrote myself into corners. From Not Planning.

So when I begin writing this next work I’m looking forward to having a very clear idea of my structure and not writing myself up trees and into relationships that make no sense or are physically or temporally impossible . I’m already itching to start drafting but I’m furiously denying myself until at least after Christmas. When I wave that metaphorical flag and allow myself to start running I’m going to be absolutely delighted to meet my characters and start making them breathe.

I hope they won’t mind that I have their whole lives mapped out for them. I also hope they behave – and do as they’re told…

How do you plan your writing? Do your characters stick to the script?

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