The planner’s turn

The very last camp care package last NaNoWriMo Camp included a link to a video lecture by Robert Mckee. Thus was the end of my latest revision attempt.

The lack of planning had begun to take its toll on writing progress. My primary novel project, White Destiny, had been increasingly slow. As more and more constraints are added to the story world, it gets much harder to bring the characters to where I want them be and to achieve results I wish them to achieve.


So in a spur of moment, I decided to start over from square one, throwing the sloppy pantser in me out and inviting the meticulous planner back in. I found myself at two in the morning, drawing a grand relationship chart for all characters in the novel on a pristine magnetic whiteboard I got from the nearest department store. Having markers and post-it sticky notes in three colors helped as I soon devised a new attack vector to this planning problem.

It began with a common theme, then the character stories that supported the common theme. Character stories that were not relevant to the theme were skimmed over or even left out of the book. The first victim of the cut was the bishop character, the second was the Traveler and the last was the Scholar.

Next, I plotted the relationships of the remaining characters and selected two characters that have the most arrows pointing at them. The Priestess and the Witch were selected as the main narrators. Following their perspective, I drew two paralleled timelines, picked the highlighted scenes and finally arranged the scenes into a single narrative timeline.

I made additional considerations to the story length of each chapter. For the sake of simplicity and better time allotment, only two or three connections on the original relationship chart were depicted in each chapter. I brainstormed some scenes and broke down into further dialogues and actions in yet another timeline…


Eventually, I have to accept the fact that my writing is easily influenced and I don’t have the necessary life experience to create believable situations. So I must read and learn, I’m reading a great variety of titles and taking notes on a number of things in life (such as cooking ingredients, building materials, geographical locations and clothing) to bolster my vocabulary.

I’m trying to write short stories, starting with a collection of short one-hour snippets I scribble down on the bus everyday, but nothing is easy. It’s difficult to say when I can resume writing White Destiny. With the bachelor thesis coming this year and the plan on making a profession out of software development, I won’t have much time for my hobbies for a while.

Not all were bad news though. Considering Heihachiro Hanbei, the protagonist of my secondary novel–Sasaki–, was also full-stack developer and part-time online writer, I’m practically gunning for a life straight out of my novel here! I definitely won’t say no a flamboyant and responsible Sasaki Aiko when she shows up.

If she ever shows up…


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