LIAN TANNER

Thinking on paper

January 27th, 2019

I’ve been reworking the plot of Book X this past week. My initial plot was a pretty dodgy one that I threw together quickly just so I could start writing the story. So I knew I was going to have to go back and look at it at some stage. And sometimes that’s easier to do once I’ve got a first draft.

But working out what’s wrong with that first draft, and how to fix it, always requires a lot of thinking. And I think best on paper.

I don’t mean so much for smallish ideas, like ‘my heroine is trapped – how is she going to escape?’ I usually take that sort of problem to the beach, and let it solve itself while I walk. But with big issues, like ‘how do I fix the structure?’ or ‘what happens in the third act?’ I need to write stuff down and draw diagrams.

I don’t have one particular way of doing it. In fact, for any one book I usually jump between butchers paper and notebooks and scraps of paper, just trying to make sense of it as best I can.

But this time I also had a new tool – sketch noting from the workshop I went to. It turned out to be a really nice way of thinking on paper. It’s a little bit meditative because of the drawing and painting, so my mind can wander while I do it. Plus it’s fun, which is always a bonus.

So the story is making more sense now, in terms of structure. This week I’m going to write out the plot in detail – more scrap paper, more sketch noting – then start work on the next draft.

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