Well, I’m doing something quite tricky here, I’m reading a book about plotting (Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell) and I’m still writing my novel. It’s similar to painting a picture and reading a book on how to paint in between times. I can already see differences in how I work.
The reason that I’m doing it this way is because I believe to be a writer you have to write. Every day. I’ve set myself a simple goal of one sentence a day, but often I get carried away and must be averaging a good few hundred words a day. In order to get over a block, I adopted a “write anything” policy, knowing that I can go back and edit. You can’t edit if you don’t have any words down on the screen! But now I’m reading about how to put plots together, and make scenes better, I’m toughening up on myself. Write anything is no longer good enough. I stop and think and craft my words. I re-read and go back and (hopefully) make things better, more vivid, more interesting.
I’m wanting to rush ahead in Plot & Structure as I know chapters on complex plots are coming up which will really help with me. Of course, when I was planning my current WIP – the Fifth Warrior – it was conceived in terms of big ideas and I grafted a plot on afterwards. So this idea of how to structure a plot is very useful to me. It’s also fascinating as I’m reading a Dean Koontz novel at the moment and I can see where his strengths are, and also that he tends to use fairly formulaic plots. But he is so good at them, and his characterisation and ideas are so strong that you don’t really notice.
I think that when it’s all written, the first rewrite will be fairly major. I don’t want to go wholesale down the American commercial route of writing page-turning thrillers. But on the other hand I would like my readers to be interested and want to finish the book, so I will take on some of the advice about crafting a decent plot.