On best laid plans and tempting fate

There are lots and lots of expressions out there about how over-planning is futile–and can even lead to trouble. One of my favorites (which is kind of odd, because I’m not religious) is “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” As a writer, I tend to think it’s the characters laughing when we tell them our plans.

I’m a plotter. I make meticulous outlines and character worksheets. I can talk about goals, motivation, conflicts until you want to tell me to shut up. I plot and plan my stories before I start writing. Usually I’m pretty accurate with wordcounts and workload and what not.

Then Double Up happened. I’d been writing some heady stuff and needed a break. I decided to do something fun. Angst-free. No muss no fuss, just a short sports story packed with sex and innuendo, to clock in somewhere around 12,000 to 15,000 words and be finished by my birthday (which is next week, eek!)

And I plotted it. Aging ex-pro is hired to coach a guy who has no business learning the sport. To be honest, this time my outline sort of looked like this (exclamation points and all):

  • Wakeboarding!
  • Innuendo!
  • Lube jokes!
  • Rope jokes!
  • Sex!
  • Best friend in a Speedo!
  • Three-way in a boat!
  • Tournament!
  • Happy Ever After!

And I noticed there wasn’t a whole lot of conflict. So I sprinkled some conflict dust over that bad boy and started writing.

There was something a little scary about seeing that 12,000 word mark fly by when I was just getting started.

And then when the 15,000 word mark also flew by, I knew I was in big trouble. I’d tempted fate. I’d told everyone my plans. And I’d plotted a much longer story than I intended. But now I was invested in it and these characters needed me to do right by them. I revised the wordcount up. Way up.

Double Up.

My “short story” now has a projected word count of around 30k words. And that’s after cutting the M/M/M scene on the boat. (Don’t worry, it seems the best friend in the Speedo is demanding a sequel, and if so, the three-way in a boat is DEFINITELY happening in that book.)

Writing is a funny thing sometimes. You can plot and plan and do as you will, but in the end, the characters get their way. And they laugh.

5 thoughts on “On best laid plans and tempting fate

  1. I love when characters take over the carefully constructed writing process and put authors through the ringer! Give V hell, boys! πŸ™‚

    One of the best stories I’ve heard was from a first-time author who was “visited” by her main character for several days, demanding that she listen to his story. She ended up writing it, to “exorcise” him from her mind. Now, she’s writing Book 2 in the series….


  2. Tell it like it is, sister!

    My characters are always in charge — which is why I gave up extreme plotting a long time ago. I am a quasi-pantser — I plot main points and then let the characters drive the vehicle between the points. I just buckle up and hold on. It all makes for some interesting side trips.

    I’m still trying to envision a M-M-M on a boat. Let me know when that one gets written. Um, and am I then only one who thinks Speedos are just wrong and only for Olympic swimmers?


  3. Moni, I think I may be moving in the quasi-pantser direction myself… As for Speedos, well, I admit I have a bit of a weakness for them myself, and they sort of suit Kinky Eddie–no pun intended. πŸ˜‰


  4. I’m trying to do more pre-planning! It seems no matter what we do, we are at the mercy of the characters. πŸ™‚ And I’m dying for that M-M-M scene. Get those boys rockin! πŸ™‚


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