I have been writing like crazy for nearly a week now and I have much to show for my efforts. However, as usual, the plan I wrote out and laboured over as I prepared to start the project is completely useless by the time I am half-way through the first draft.
For instance: I had this character in my plan. His name was Lucan and he was really quite an interesting character. Even for a minor one. I gave him an entire history and fleshed out his appearance. I even drew a character web revolving just around him and how he fit into the story. I liked Lucan. He was going to swan into the story about mid-stream and shake things up a bit with his zany approach to planning, giving the protagonist a much needed lesson in spontaneity, before conveniently dying in what was perhaps one of the most incredible death scenes I have even envisioned. Even in death he was going to be interesting.
I'm mid-way through my story, and not only have I not introduced Lucan, or given him any mention at all, the direction the story is headed and where my protagonist is at, ensures that Lucan is no longer required. More to the point, he no longer fits at all with any of the other characters as they have changed so much that he is completely unable to fit with any of them in his present state.
Lucan, therefore, is gone. (I really hope I do write a sequel to this current story because I would very much like Lucan to appear. I went to a lot of effort with his character.)
As you can imagine, with the characters out of phase with my plan, the rest of the plan, including all significant plot points, is now void. One plan thrown out the window.
Now the reason I manage to do this, every time I write anything, is quite simple. I refuse to follow a paved road from point A to point B if the road is dull. If I see something shiny over to the left, then I will veer left. Sometimes these detours are minor, but usually they are a radical change of course from which very little will manage to redirect me back in the original direction. And, what is the point of continuing along a road when you've already decided you'd rather be somewhere else?
I've already figured out that it is my character that derail me. It is during bouts of dialogue where I frequently divert the flow. Mostly because one of my characters will say something, and instead of moving on with the story as the plan would dictate, another character will reply. Their banter will continue and the simply A to B suddenly becomes A to C via X and Y and maybe we'll end up at D instead. I could then go back and rewrite to end up at B, and I will if I honestly think the new direction is not going anywhere, but generally I'll suddenly see a whole new world of possibilities opening before me.
The plan does get the initial energy flowing. It focuses me and forces me to think about my characters. I wouldn't get these spontaneous flows of dialogue if my characters were simple paper cut outs. It is through all the planning and decision making that I become connected to the project. Plus, if I'm not inspired, the plan gives me something to follow so that the project does keep moving.
Incidentally, I finally figured out the new conclusion to my project, which is far better than the initial plan. I am going to spend a couple of hours this evening sorting out the fine print and writing The Plan, Take 2. By the time I get to the end of the draft I'll have thrown that away and be on take 3. By the time I finish editing if I'm not up to The Plan, Take 20 I'll be very surprised.
How are you with planning and do you bother to stick with your plans? Let me know what you think.