I am a panster through and through, and fly by the seat of my pants when writing a story. What can I say, I like surprises. I have no idea how the mind of a planner works, or what their process might look like. Luckily, author Emma Jordan agreed to a guest post to share her thoughts on it.
Emma writes romance, and has two published books titled 'Everything Except You' and 'Everything and Nothing'. Emma hales from Plymouth in England. One thing I love about my blog, is I get to meet, and connect with writers from all over the globe. So, lets get to it. Here is Emma's post.
Planning To Write Fiction
I do declare that I’m a (now) a planner when it comes to writing, even though I can’t follow written instructions (sorry Ikea and Lego). Thank you, Hayley, for the chance to natter about how much I love planning my romance books.
Before I discovered the gorgeousness of planning
I spent my teens and twenties wanting to write, and writing some great opening fiction chapters in between uni essays and the early Admin career; those two-hour seven am commutes had to be good for something.
Life happened and I swapped my thoughts to write fiction for a teaching career, travelling to China in 2004 for a few years, taking in as many countries in Asia as I could visit. I returned to the UK, found a partner who loves to travel as much as I do, and we explored Europe together. We were just finding our long-haul feet when our daughter came along. Fiction writing was put on hold in my thirties as I discovered motherhood and the beautiful distraction of social media.
One day, as the train to 40 approached, I nurtured the idea for a romance trilogy, featuring places I love and know well (Chicago and Nashville). I wrote three pitches, each sounding complete, and set about writing the skeleton plan for the first book in my Love is Everything series, Everything Except You. For the first time in my writing thoughts I had a beginning, middle and end to a story; conclusions have always been a problem for me. With a typing speed (thank you early Admin career) of 60 wpm I wrote the first 30k in a euphoric couple of months. Then the plot stalled.
Stalled fiction writer
I returned to the pitches; the stories still made sense. I returned to the coffee shops, my fail safe place of inspiration and in the hour writing gaps I had, realised there was a big hole in my plot where the middle should have been. The ending wasn’t taking me to the conclusion I loved. So I started planning.
· If this happens, then this could happen. Nope, wouldn’t work.
· If the main characters did this….nope.
· If a minor character….nope.
· If I relocated the story to the UK, with visits to the USA. Oh, yep, that’ll work.
One 30k rewrite later and, thanks to some latte-induced planning, my story was back on track, and the word count doubled. This time whenever a problem arose, my characters sorted it out for me. Or a couple of days later I had the answer to my plot holes.
Eighteen months later and I had a novel ready to be read, a novel I couldn't stop reading. It didn’t matter if only my Mum read my book, through the power of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform my book was going to be uploaded.
I heart planning
Before I could obsess over sales I planned out the second book, Everything and Nothing. I had 28 beautiful chapters planned out, including a rough middle and an ending, in a couple of days. Then I planned out how long it would take me to write and edit. A year would be good.
Cue the arrival of a pandemic.
To avoid home-schooling, after another argument with Mini Writer, I dispatched her to her Scooby Doo obsession and I took to my laptop to write the second book; escaping into a romance, based on my love of travel and music and sass was far easier than dealing with the news.
I had 20k of Everything and Nothing written in March 2020 and a faithful plan; 28 sentences that I just had to turn into chapters. But that’s all I needed to answer: what is the purpose of my chapter? and how will it move the stories forward?
I’ve often used the phrase, failing to plan is planning to fail at work, and teachers are more prone to planning than most careers.
Now this phrase, this key aspect of teaching, meant that my second novel was written, edited and uploaded to Amazon in four months, by July 2020, And reviews from new readers suggested the story was better than the first. My Mum is still trying to find the time to read my books so I know the reviews aren’t from her.
Book three altered slightly. I wanted to plan and write a Christmas story, to be published in December 2020, whilst changing careers from teacher to copywriter. The plan for Everything This Christmas was written down. This time, instead of two characters telling their story, I wanted four characters to have their say. I rationed the word count, however, knowing this book would be a novella and a third of the size of my novels.
Thanks to feedback from readers on the series, the planned trilogy is approaching a heptathlon. The original ending to the series, book 4, will be published in the late summer of 2021. The final three books will be released in 2022. I haven’t planned out either yet.
In a year that taught us to abandon plans, my detailed planning of plots (what’s happening), characters (who’s doing the happening), settings (where are these things happening) and events (planning, writing, editing and marketing) have enabled me to release two books and plan a third in twelve months. Now my love of language is honed during the editing stage, instead of during the writing, when my storylines may have sounded good, but fell into a ravine.
The more I plan who and where my characters are, the more they tell the story.
There is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to planning.
Thank you to Emma for sharing her insight into planning. If you would like to check out her books, click on the links below.