It’s easy to get lost if you don’t know where you’re going.
Last week we took the ferry to Vancouver Island and combined our visiting with a bit of camping (okay, RVing for you purists). We spent our first night at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park with its 347 hectares of old growth, picnic sites and campground, plus two kilometers of sandy beach and magnificent views.
We tucked the fifth wheel and truck into a convenient spot and wandered off to find the shore before sunset. There was a well worn trail not far from our campsite, not marked, but it seemed to head in the right direction, so off we went.
Shadows lengthened. We discovered a few delights along the way, but no sign of the ocean. Eventually we came to a wide wire gate leading onto a street of private homes and caught a glimpse of water beyond. Should we trespass or continue on the trail, which now turned ninety degrees and carried on with no end in sight? We elected to stay on the trail and soon found a break in the underbrush that let us through to the shore.
It was an enjoyable walk and we eventually reached our destination, but on the way out of the campground the next day we saw signs for the real beach trail. I’m sure if we’d planned ahead and read the park brochure we could have saved ourselves a lot of wandering and wondering.
That’s also true in our writing. There are various ways to craft a novel. Some are well documented and named: the Snowflake Method, the Kiser Method, the Marshall Plan, the Hero’s Journey, Plotting, and Pantsing, to name a few.
Like our impulse to find the ocean, we can get a story idea and simply jump into the writing. We can begin at the top of the first page and let the words tumble out, or outline first, sorting scenes on recipe cards, sticky notes and spreadsheets, and doing detailed character sketches and hours of research. No matter what route we choose, as long as we have a destination in mind and don’t give up before we reach it, we have a fair chance of getting there.
With a little forethought and planning, however, we can save ourselves a lot of unnecessary revision and backtracking, as well some anxiety. It’s no fun getting lost!
Do you follow a specific writing plan? Have you tried other methods?