There’s something hugely satisfying about writing organically – no clear-cut plan, just a strong sense of character, a few vivid scenes moving in the mind, and an inkling of how it’s all going to turn out. There’s freedom in watching as one image transmogrifies into another in the writer’s trance so that before you know it, the story is spooling out in Technicolor, creating itself like a dream.
But for the first time, I’m doing things very differently. I’ve written a detailed chapter plan for Dreamrunner and I’m systematically going through it. Sometimes it feels dreadfully mechanical; I sit at my desk and say, Right. It’s Monday. I need to write chapter thirty… OK, so what am I writing about? (I consult The Plan) Aha, it’s the scene with the street kid and the sapphire amulet. Where’s my pen? Here we go…
This change in technique is because of the deadline, of course, which I’ve realised I can either think of as a creativity-crusher or a creativity-liberator. A lot depends on the way you see things. Although having The Plan is a bit organised for my taste, I’m trying to see this as a valuable novel-writing technique, and it’s true I understand much more now how some writers manage to bang out two or more books a year – they must have a Plan!
The challenge I’m facing now with Dreamrunner is that although I know exactly where I’m going in terms of chapter-by-chapter plot development, I need to keep writing organically within this structure so the unexpected can still appear and the magical heart of the novel keeps beating freely. I find daydreaming in a café by the sea with a pen, The Plan and a chocolate croissant to hand does the trick. J