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):
- Lube jokes!
- Rope jokes!
- Best friend in a Speedo!
- Three-way in a boat!
- 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.
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.