Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous over thinking
Or to take arms against a sea of graphic organizers and tedious outlines…
…To sleep, perchance to dream; Aye there’s the creative process
For in that sleep of subconscious ideas, what dreams may come”
I don’t plot. I just lied. I don’t consciously plot. I subconsciously plot. Anyone who survived public school has ingested countless plotting tools such as Roman numeral outlines, story maps, flash cards with the word dénouement, and Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. (Which I LOVE.) Our gray matter is permanently stamped with format.
I have tried the pre-planning route in my creative writing and I find it stifling. I prefer a plethora of post-its smattered all over my mirrored closet door with scribbles of ideas I didn’t want to lose. Do I use them all? Nope. Doesn’t matter. They helped form the subconscious shape of my story.
I love Stephen King’s take on plotting in his book, ON WRITING. (I'm lamely paraphrasing Mr. King's phenomenal philosophy) He discusses setting a situation and then narrating how the characters handle it. He doesn’t force them to follow a prescribed step-by-step plan, but rather lets the story organically evolve around character reactions and decisions as they navigate their situation. In this style sometimes what you visualized happens and sometimes it doesn’t.
I say, WHAT FUN! This is my cup of tea.
Okay, I know some of you are freaking out. Too much freedom? Too much unknown? If it is – you need to be a conscious plotter. No judgment here. Every creative process has it’s own preferences. The bottom line is to write the way that brings you that rush of joy and makes you shout, “I love doing this.”
Fess up. Are you a conscious or subconscious plotter?
Treat yourself to these two books on writing: ON WRITING by Stephen King and RON CARLSON WRITES A STORY by Ron Carlson. They are better than chocolate.