WRITING Part IV – Plotting and planning

I have found that it is a good idea not to become too bogged down with structure and plot – if your characters are three dimensional enough, you’ll often find that they can carry a simpler story and, once you know them well, they bring the story to you. When you’re in full swing, you should feel little more than the characters’ PA taking dictation.  Like with many movies, not a lot needs to happen in a book if the characters leap of the page – on the other hand, who gives a toss about the most intricate plot if the characters don’t breathe? There’s ample opportunity to shape your novel and fiddle with your adjectives when you have momentum. Spending too much time editing at an early stage is little more than procrastination.  I allow myself 40 minutes each morning to read through and shape the previous day’s work – then I crack on.  A regular paperback book is anywhere between 80-120,000 words. I tend to write about 40 chapters of around 3,000 words. But different writers go for different chapter lengths. Again, no rules on that.
 However, one rule that cannot be bent let alone broken is that which our English teachers would hammer home – all good stories MUST have a Beginning (introduction), Middle (plot thickens), and End (resolution).  If having a wall bedecked with post-it notes, or charts of colourful flow patterns, or intricate mind-maps helps YOU then go for it.  There is no right or wrong way to write.