Veni, vidi, and what am I doing here?

Southwold Harbour

There are times when I think Life has a sense of humour. It leads you off in one direction and then before you realise what has happened, it has turned you around and you find yourself somewhere else entirely.

That happened to me today. I had a plan, a perfectly simple plan, to go out for lunch with my husband and then shopping: not shopping in general, but to a very specific dress shop. John, who is very tolerant (he has to be, to put up with me) was prepared to endure half an hour or so in my dress shop and if I took longer, then there is a nice little coffee place just next door. The execution of the plan began well. We set off in good time and arrived at the restaurant to be seated before the lunchtime rush. Lunch was delicious, but I will not subject you to a mouthful by mouthful account. Everything seemed to be on course and then John popped to the loo. Now, I mention this not because it is of any note, but because at that point, left alone, I took out my mobile ‘phone to send a text to a friend. Unremarkable, you may think and I can only agree, except that the ‘phone in question has not been behaving for several weeks (actually, read months) and today it chose to be difficult at exactly that moment.

John returned to the table, noticed I had a problem and suggested it was time I bought a new one. At this point, Life intervened. It steered us out of the restaurant and into a nearby Phone Shop, where we spent some considerable time purchasing a new and very beautiful mobile, after which we found a tea shop and spent the rest of the afternoon there.

How did that happen? All that planning and for what?

Does this sound at all familiar to you? It does to me. This is frequently what happens when I write. I plan, I write intricate synopses and chapter outlines, all to no avail, because at some point, Life, or the Naughty Fairy, or my Left Brain, will decide that none of my strategies will be needed. My characters develop a will of their own and veer off in a direction for which I am unprepared. Irritatingly, it will often make for a better plot, too.

So I have decided that for this future novel, I will not conjure such elaborate schemes, but drift from my chosen beginning to the rough finale I have in mind, via one or two definite plot points and if, as seems likely, I deviate a little from the expected route, then so be it.

What’s that? The picture? Well, I wanted to include the photograph of a shopping centre to illustrate my day, but since that was not to be, then one of a deserted harbour seemed to be as appropriate as anything else and it does have the benefit of being prettier.

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12 responses to “Veni, vidi, and what am I doing here?

  1. Aye,aye,aye! I know exactly what you mean. I think this is why I so love meeting new characters, and seeing how they act in different situations. They do have minds of their own, they truly do, and I find that when I get to know my chacters well enough, it starts to feel like the whole novel is writing itself.

  2. Hi, I finished writing my first ever novel draft last month, where I wrote an outline from the outset and then revised it all the way through…this month I’ve been writing my second. I started with a strong idea of what it’s about, a beginning and sketchy ending…all in all I’m enjoying this approach too, was a little scary at first but I needed to let my imagination run riot because there are several story strands…

    • Yes, I think it might feel a little scary to let things drift, but on the other hand drifting is what I seem to do best. Even when I set out to write a 500 word post, it never quite turns out the way I expect.
      So I’m going to try bypassing the planning bit and wing it.
      We’ll see if it flies.
      Let me know if yours takes off too.

  3. Life is fun like that isn’t it? I’m curious to see how pantsing works out for you; it’s kind of funny, you’re switching up to pantsing and I’m trying to move away from it.

    My suggestion as you pants along, if you get bored with your story ask yourself one question; “What is the most exciting thing that could happen righ now?”

    This will carry you through some tough spots and make for some interesting moments, even if you decide to cut them later.

    • I seem to have missed your comment somehow. Sorry about that. Yes, we do seem to be doing a switch about on this. Will be interesting to see how we both get on!
      And thank you for the question. I will give that a whirl.

  4. I am a born panster. My outline is very rough. (A few notes on a scrap of paper) The story just seems to happen as I go along and often in a different direction I thought it would. This has worked for all three books so i will keep doing it that way. I do appreciate The Writer’s Codex suggestion if you get bored. I will try that! Thanks.

    • Yes, I think I used to write like this and it was a writing course that bullied me into planning every detail and I’m not sure it’s entirely me.
      So I shall be winging it more next time!

  5. Hello there, I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. You can find details on my most recent post, thanks for blogging. I’ve either found your work insirational, or resourceful, so you’ve earned it. Keep up the good work.

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