Ever since I was young, I have lived within a bubble of self-enforced organisation. For me, the world is almost like a formula, and if one thing falls out of place, then the whole thing crumbles. It made me somewhat of an annoying child. And probably even more of an annoying adult. Even still, that is how I plan so many aspects of my life. My day. My work. My gym regime. All of it is organised and built on order.
For this reason, it is hard for me to say that writing cannot be done in that same way. It is not about order, but about passion. For me anyway. Whereas everything else in my world is organised, writing is more organic. Don’t get me wrong. I plan my stories. And when I do plan them, I go in to great detail. I create a world, from the beers that people drink, to the clothes they wear. All of it has a specific brand, a unique taste or smell. Weapons are taken apart, each component given a name, before they are put back together. Buildings are drawn up, scaled, each material given a composite definition. Even the air in which my characters breathe is worked out to perfect percentages of compounds. Half of this stuff may not even be mentioned in my stories, but I need it there, just in case. After all, if you don’t know the world your characters live in, then how can you allow them to become moulded by it?
Things are a little different when it gets to the story and the characters. Your main characters can be given personality traits, physical characteristics, and probably a psychological profile. Their histories can be told, but their future is not yet seen, and will likely change. The same too for the story, which can be given the main beats, plotted out, threading a path from beginning, to middle, to end. But you have to be prepared to venture from those tracks. Writing is about emotion and, more specifically, the emotional response to the intense situations that you put your characters in. Obviously, I cannot speak for everyone, but when I dive in to that world, give in to the throes of the written passion, I cannot predict every detail of what will happen. It all becomes organic, evolving as I weave every word, feel every emotional hit that my characters take. When you give in so totally to those characters, you can only react through them once you are in the full swing of their plight. I have been writing for years. It’s not just a hobby for me; it’s also a release. Writing gives me the opportunity to break free of those orderly binds and indulge in something sporadic, and frantic, and sometimes even emotional. I tried for years to plan my stories beat for beat. And for years I was reading over my words and felt they lacked the necessary conviction and drama. Then I decided to give in to the writing, and let it control me instead of the other way around. It was only then that I truly fell in love with my own worlds and the characters struggling through them. Planning the story is essential. It guides you on your path. But you should never be afraid to branch away from that plan and allow the story to mature on its own. Planning the story is an objective strategy to guide you, but writing the story is a subjective journey that should flow naturally. It may not work the same for everyone, but my advice is to allow yourself to get caught up in the story and run with those spontaneous ideas that explode within the moment.