Friday, September 17, 2010

Plotting (Your Life and Your Story)

Today I’d like to talk to you on the subject of plans. Actually, in my case, the lack of plans. Anyone who truly knows me would be able to tell you in a heartbeat that I’m hyper-organized, controlling, paranoid, and many more things that are less than flattering. However, I have to admit, they are all true. My work in progress is obsessively outlined, each day is rigorously scheduled, and I often consider my life to be completely planned out. Recently I have been rethinking my insane choices. But today, I make an oath out of reverence for the present.

Just as rules are made to be broken, plans are made to be changed. I often forget that I’ve only walked this earth for a mere 16 years. Every teenager thinks they know it all. We are a unique breed in that we are stuck in an awkward combination of childlike innocence and adult like arrogance. Maybe that’s why Contemporary YA is so fun to write. No teenager handles things exactly the same way. Teenagers as a culture are constantly changing. But, one thing remains true, instead planning for our future, we need to plan to be surprised. I’m not saying to ignore college, grow a beard, buy a van, and go sell tee-shirts down by the beach. However, in this high pressure society we need to be open to all possibilities. This goes for everyone, not just teenagers. There’s no need to force yourself down a certain road.

This can be applied in so many different ways. For a literary example, I left the ending of my WIP unplanned. I know where I’m going, but I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen when I get there. Deviate from the outline. I recently wrote in two characters that I had no idea were going to exist in my novel. They are now intertwined with the plot and better the story. They were entirely unexpected and fit perfectly. I respect those that don’t outline their novel at all. Following ones intuition is essential for all writers; although the degree can vary. Novels are constantly re-written. No one ever gets it on the first try. So explore your options. I know I need to explore mine. A lot. 

So this may not have been the most coherent thing in the world, but it’s been on my mind the past few weeks. Let me know your thoughts!

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