Going completely plotty

Plotting for the next story. Thousands of words of notes on the computer. Putting important plot points on scraps of paper and arranging them by hand to get the story arc right. What I have here represents about two-thirds of the likely story. More pieces of the jigsaw to find and put into place yet, but so far so good.

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Hatching fiendish plots.

Rather more ideas coming up than I can easily manage, hence the copious notes.

No, this is not the promised third volume of underpants, this is something a bit different.

I’ll not say what because talking the details of a project before it’s finished often kills it.

When I conceived this story, I was intending a quick fun write/read, possibly as short as 50,000 words. However, like many tall tales, it seems to be growing in the telling.

Have been plotting for a couple of months but real life events have thrown me off time and again. Wrote the first chapter while on holiday in the UK in order to get the tone and find out more about the main character. This was an enormous help. Wrote it in more or less one sitting, late at night with a bottle of wine as my muse.

Much more work to do in finding the characters and sorting out the gaps in the plot. However, as you go along, one thing leads to another and you find what you are looking for eventually (though occasionally the find can be a last-gasp reach of constructive desperation).

The current story seems to be the most involved bit of plotting I have attempted so far.

For many years I sneered at planning stories and wrote by the seat of my pants. Weed and everything in Un-Tall Tales came about that way. Eventually, I began to wonder whether planning and plotting might speed up the process. That was, very specifically, 2012 when I came out of the magazine and was looking for an early score in the fiction writing department, looking for a story that I could produce quickly and use to build up some momentum. I began plotting and then writing a particular novel. That story is not finished. It is a good one, but very ambitious, and will take years to write, so I’ve put it aside for the sake of some less ambitious projects.

The next story was King of the Undies World. I think I created the plot outline in about 20 minutes on a lunch break. Perhaps that’s not literally true, but that’s the way it feels. It was a sketchy outline, as it turned out, and I had to fill in the details as I went along, so the world planned might only apply tangentially.

The story arc of The Underpants Tree came to me in one go as soon as I started thinking about it. I then worked up a synopsis on that curve and did that badly. I had to change it as I went along, so like KOTUW there was a lot of improvisation as I worked at it.

While you are waiting for the picture to load, a little song ...

Simplicity is my muddle name.

The current project: keep it simple, I thought. Simple, direct, with a linear uncomplicated plot. Make it something you can write in three months.

Well. I’m still working on the plot, having started in July, but that’s fine because for all this browbeating, the arc is looking good and some very silly plot points are coming out.
I still have no idea of the ending. I just know it can’t be a happy one.

Oops! Was that a plot spoiler?

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About chrispagefiction

Author of the novels Sanctioned, Weed, King of the Undies World, and The Underpants Tree; also the story collection Un-Tall Tales; editor, freelance writer and all that stuff. At heart he is a London person, but the rest of his body is a long-term exile in Osaka, Japan.
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3 Responses to Going completely plotty

  1. Good luck! I’m not taking notes for the rough draft myself. I’m just writing. I wish I could develop my novel that way, but I feel so in the dark with my world that I just have to write and find out about it.

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