On Plotting a Novel in a Day

So, I wanted to write something to reflect on one of my more popular posts, “How to Plot a Complex Novel in One Day.” Now and then, I’ll get criticized about it, but I don’t think most people get it. It was actually, half-way a joke – some people might sense that from the tone. I wrote it a little over two years ago and reposted it recently because I thought it was kind of fun. 

I don’t exactly anticipate anyone taking it seriously – it might be fun for coming up with ideas, but really it’s probably only good for that. Originally I wrote it because I had been writing a novel and taking an informal class on novel writing. I wasn’t happy with what I’d been writing and I had been asked to bring in an outline of what I was working on, just as a way to talk about our projects. I was really intimidated by this and went way over the top. I wanted to have an idea that didn’t sound like I’d just come up with it on the spot. And, for the most part, I did. 

I came up with the idea to switch everything up one day before I had to bring in my outline. When you have a deadline and only need a concept to start working with, it’s not all that bad of a strategy, I guess? That’s the thing, when you’re plotting long before you’ve actually started writing and are just forming some ideas, it’s ok to have something fairly basic and rudimentary. It’s not a serious post by any means, but it’s loosely what I did to get the results I was in need of, to talk about a project that was still very much in idea stages. That’s another thing I wanted to mention, I wrote this post for idea stages. Things get a lot more complicated as you write. 

I am not much of a planner, so the simpler the better otherwise there’s a chance I won’t remember what I’d wanted to do. Most likely, while writing, I won’t do that exactly anyway. I come up with something better as I write. The plot develops in a different way and becomes something that’s much more unique. For me, the plot isn’t real or developing until it starts to come together on the page. I know that’s not everyone, but it’s my process. 

So, yep. My post was kind of a joke – kind of, I had fun with it. It was inspired by a need to come up with something quickly. I figure this is kind of a disclaimer, a bit of reflection, and a response to some of the criticism. There isn’t a right or wrong way to write something, so use my post or don’t. I don’t always use it. If I have an idea already, I don’t plot that way. I was just in a bit of a pickle and that’s how I got out of it. 

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