I have never been a planner, in life or in work. I tend to take things as they come and give in to my ideas and impulses. So far, it has worked out pretty well for me. However, right now I’m frightening the life out of my wife Nats with my flip charts, outlines and moveable post-it pads. The reason for all this uncharacteristic organization is that the novel I’m working on is turning out to be rather complicated.
The plot started out pretty simple, with no fantasy element to it. I had a brainwave, however, which has created a wider overarching theme involving heaven and hell’s battle for humanity’s soul through music. Now it has three main characters all coming together: a minor demon trying to prove himself to the head bummer, a washed-up rock star desperate to hit the big time again and a failed talent show contestant with some strange ideas about what it will take to become famous.
This makes for a better book, but it is far harder to keep track of all the different interwoven threads. So, I’ve had to throw aside my shambolic nature and become a planner. With Apocalypse Cow, the idea just came to me and I ran with it. The plot evolved naturally as I went along, and I never felt I needed anything beyond a basic outline that I modified as I saw fit. I have an outline for the current book, tentatively titled Wannabes, and 45,000 words in the bag. But over the last few weeks I’ve been unable to move forward as I am struggling to figure out exactly what goes where and in which order.
Enter the flip-chart. I now have a large piece of paper, a bunch of scenes on small pieces of paper and a stick of paper glue. I am going to spend the next few days shuffling all the scenes around until it makes sense in my head, then I’m going to stick those babies down and go for it. I’m hoping this will give me a clear run at the first draft, which should take another 2-3 months. After that, I will add meat to the bones and compulsively edit until somebody tells me to stop.
I hope to have this book completely done by the end of the year, other commitments to family, work and Apocalypse Cow permitting. Wish me luck!