The rewrite was going badly. This is an understatement. So I took a week off in the Forest of Dean, as you do, and when I went back to it I decided to replan the rewrite. This I managed through one day of solid work.* We’re talking 10am til 4pm – not quite 9 – 5 but still pretty good. This is not quite the point I meant to make, so I’ll just jump straight to that.
Plotting a novel is a nightmare. I had no idea of this fact before I attempted to plot mine. Or rather to replot mine after making a few novel-changing discoveries in the process of the first draft. I used to think novels just sort of wrote themselves and one thing just happened naturally after another. Wrong. Everything that happens in a novel is carefully planned. It does not just happen.
Take Harry Potter, for example. I often thought, while struggling to replot/rewrite my novel, that Harry Potter must have been easy to plot because it’s just one thing following another. Then I discovered this:
This is part of J.K. Rowling’s plan for The Order of the Phoenix and, as you can see, it’s pretty intense. She’s got 6 subplots going on there. 6! I’m pretty new to this whole subplot thing – I’ve never really thought of novels in this way – which might explain why I’m having so much trouble. Now I’ve identified my main plot and subplots, at least, which has enabled me to replot the opening 15,000 words, although I haven’t done it as J.K. has – i.e. with separate sections for the subplots, etc – mine’s all as one. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. We’ll have to see. But if it doesn’t, I’m going to try her method next.
Because the thing is, yes, J.K. Rowling’s writing style isn’t great – adverbs, cliche’s, clumsy dialogue, info-dumps, some cirnge-worthy metaphors (Harry’s Ginny-inspired-lion springs to mind) – but when it comes to plot, she’s a genius. Anyone can write a good sentence but to weave a main plot and 7 subplots together seamlessly like she does is a talent. So hats off to you, Joanna. You’ve earned my respect and I now look forward to reading The Casual Vacancy.**
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*I didn’t actually replan the entire novel, just what I hope will be the opening 15,000 words at least.
**Previously, I hadn’t wanted to read it despite the fact that the blurb interested me because it was written by her and I didn’t think she could pull it off. Soz Jo.