No one starts out with planting an elaborate garden from scratch any more than a writer will pen a novel off the cuff. Both require some planning, a vision. And as any gardener or writer knows, what you start off with is rarely what you end up with.
I’m in the second chapter of my latest (revised ) novel and I’m hitting the point where foreshadowing happens and the events that kick the plot off have to be done right. I started off with an idea of how I wanted the book to end and did a brief outline backwards from there to the beginning. Sometimes that works but in this case I had plot holes big enough to drive a bullet train through.
At the beginning of the year, my wife and I sit down to plan out the garden. Time had taught us that you have to rotate plants to cut down on diseases and it’s always a challenge placing the right plants in the right places. After all the planning it still comes down to which plants will take or die, what critter will eat the seedlings, and which plants will survive a late frost. The garden in September never looks like the one we planned on paper in January.
The novel outline I started chapter one is totally different than the one at the end of chapter two. I have revised it half a dozen times, closed up the plot holes and resolved the ending satisfactorily. That’s not to say that changes won’t happen along the way, literary squirrels may chew holes in the plot. The important thing is to have a workable plan so I don’t lose momentum and so I don’t second guess myself and bring the work to a crashing halt.
Plans are important. Every aspect of life requires one. Many of us are ‘seat of the pants’ writers, I consider myself one. And ‘discovery’ writing is probably the most creative way to figure out a story. But once the discovering is done, once the seedlings outgrow the starter tray, it’s time to stick to a plan for both plots and plots.