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Can I query my book before it's done?

The problem of too many book part 2

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Capo Famiglia
Full Member
May 19, 2014
London UK
If you’re something of a social media butterfly, please consider posting this 60-second clip from yesterday’s show, featuring developmental editor Chris Jones answering a YouTube viewer's question about The Biggest Mistake That Writers Make...

May provoke some reaction (especially from pantsers!). And it ties in very nicely with our upcoming seminar on Synopses.


Totally agree with what Chris says. When I first started writing, I didn't plan because I had the peachy notion that the story should have its own 'life' and that I wasn't truly creative unless I let it unfold itself as I went, and that, after all, I'm an author so I should be in my writing corner, my imagination buzzing, and the muse ... blah blah.

Now a few books on and hours and hours of editing / fixing (I could have written another novel in the time it took), I've embraced planning. Planning isn't the big monster that hinders creativity. On the contrary. Planning keeps the creativity on track and makes sure the picture works as a whole. More importantly, planning is a part of the creative process too. It's the act of creating a cohesive story skeleton. Once that skeleton is in place, I can create the muscle around it. . It's deciding which road I travel. To me it's like picking the size of the canvas to suit the painting I'm going to do. When I paint, I don't take a roll of canvas and keep going until I'm happy or have run out of surface. I have a fixed size. The frame. Now I'm free to be creative within it.

A plan for me could be a simple, beginning, middle and end, and deciding on motivation, goal, conflict, lessons learnt. It doesn't have to go into deep chapter by chapter detail. But at least I have signposts I know work.

And anyway, just because we have a plan before we start, doesn't mean it's set in stone. I can ditch the plan, or detour for bit if the story suddenly guides me that way.
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Whenever I mention the dreaded 'p-word' to my writing students, they groan. Then we plan a story together, and they have such a fabulous time coming up with a collective plot and characters, they can't help but notice that planning is a fun and creative process. I've always been a planner, but I've learned with time not to plan too tightly. I start a book with guideposts--places I need to hit along the way to my ending--but I'm not always certain exactly how I'm going to get there. If I plan more details at the start, they just end up needing to change by the time I get there.

Instead, I stop for planning breaks. About half way through a book, I'll look at my plan and rewrite it as needed. Then about three-quarters of the way through, I'll bang out details for the final quarter, where all the different threads need to come together.
Seems like you’ve hit exactly the right balance, @Robinne Weiss

A decent working synopsis ought to allow room for the plot, and characters, to breathe. I love it when writers tell me, sometimes in rather shocked tones, that one of their characters has “spoken” to them – and the plot has consequently veered off in a rather unexpected direction. A good working synopsis will allow this to happen. It’s not a straightjacket!

:) p.

PS Mega-seminar on synopses on final approach now…!
And here’s another social media mini-clip from this weeks’ show (<60 secs) that you can use if you so wish… 21 years for an overnight success!

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Can I query my book before it's done?

The problem of too many book part 2