There are no universal rules. Trust me, as soon as you find one, you'll find someone who's broken it, and written a great story.
Be brave. Don't refrain from following a new line in the plot as it emerges. It might prove to be the key element in the story.
I’m a planner when it comes to writing. But even with the chapters all planned out, when I’m writing, a character can say something, do something, suggest something I’d never thought of. My natural inclination is to resist, *must stick to the plan* I realise there’s a place for this, and there’s also a place for a bit of jazz writing, making it up as you go along. So I try to be brave, take that turn the main character’s suggested, work around the fact that the protagonist’s mum isn’t quite how I’d imagined her to be.
Sometimes this is great, and it does lead the story off into an interesting direction.
And I’m not going to lie to you; sometimes it leads it off into a complete blind alley. Sometimes I have found I’m not writing the story I originally intended to write. Which can be difficult if you’re writing for a submission call.
So what do I do in situations like that?
I suppose it depends on if the direction it’s going in - is interesting or not. If it’s interesting and not to the brief or original intention, then I’ll pursue it, see where it leads to and hopefully I can make use of the story somewhere else.
If I find myself writing something in a new direction I don’t find interesting; it’s not pushing my buttons, not about things I’m comfortable writing about, or I don’t enjoy writing it. In that case I’d stop. Pull it back to the original idea.
This may be wrong, and re-reading, and comparing it with the first paragraph, I’ve actually gone against the advice this whole post is about. But you know what, that’s life sometimes isn’t it? I do believe if you don’t enjoy writing something, that will show when it’s read. I watched a documentary about a widely published literary fiction novelist who set herself a challenge of writing a Mills & Boon category romance. It was much harder than she’d imagined, because she was forcing herself to write it *in that genre* rather than her natural inclination towards another genre.
So if you find yourself taken down a different line in the plot, follow it, be brave, enjoy the ride. But if you don’t enjoy the ride, stop it and get off. There’s always other plot lines to follow.
Do you follow this advice? Or do you stick to your plan? Or maybe you don’t plan at all. I’d love to hear what you think of this writing advice?
Until next time
Liam Livings xx