“Few write as an architect builds, drawing on a plan beforehand and thinking it out down to the smallest details. Most write as they play dominoes: their sentences are linked together as dominoes are, one by one, in part deliberately, in part by chance” – Schopenhaur.
A philosophy post-graduate has played a part in stimulating my ageing brain cells this week by lending me a favourite book of his: ‘Essays and Aphorisms’ by Arthur Schopenhauer. This has given me an idea for a series of blog posts, using quotes from Schopenhauer, to trigger off a few thoughts on reading and writing-related topics. So here is the first one.
I’m not sure I agree that only a ‘few’ write as an architect builds. I think a lot of writers do spend time drawing up a carefully thought out plan beforehand. I come in between the planners and dominoes players, though until recently, definitely on the side of dominoes. For fiction writing, I would start off with the rough idea, jot down a few basic notes, and then off I would go, building up most of my story as I went along.
I’m trying to change and here’s why. My lack of detailed planning has caused my novel-in-progress to come unstuck. Reading through my first draft I realised I had several inconsistencies with the time frame and I had not trailed my overall plot through sufficiently, causing lack of a coherent shape and various other plot problems and structural weaknesses. The inconsistencies with the time frame alone turned out to be incredibly difficult to sort out, each alteration leading to a need to change a whole lot more things further on in the story.
Have I learnt my lesson? Well, I still love to get on with writing, without much planning, and see where the writing takes me. But I have to concede that doing much more planning with my novel beforehand could have saved me a lot of extra work at the revision stage. I’m now drawing up a detailed plan of my novel, but, having got so far on with writing my novel first, I think I’ve done things the wrong way round. Like a breech baby, my novel has arrived feet first, head last, and got tangled up.