I went to Westonbirt Arboretum on Saturday. Crowds had flocked to see the Autumn colours and we were directed to an overflow car park. I've been there a few times, but it's easy to get lost as the paths, which have names such as 'Main Drive' and 'Loop Walk' twist and wind through the trees. Usually we get a map but we forgot to ask for one when paying for our tickets.
The sky was blue that day and the light dappled through the trees, which were an assortment of colours; red, yellow, shades of green and brown. Pine cones, acorns, twigs, logs, bark, leaves and dust covered the ground. Usually we work out our route at the beginning and end up dithering because we see a path which we want to take. We look at the map to see whether this path will lead us back to where we started or to the café, where we can get coffee and cake. On this occasion we had a better time without the map because we just went with the flow.
These two approaches to tackling the route at Westonbirt Arboretum could be compared to how we write a novel. I wrote the first draft of my first novel in about eight weeks (ie. without a map). Since then I've spent several years knocking it into shape by reading creative writing books, talking it over with writing friends and by going to classes where I've had my work critiqued. It is almost there and I plan to send it to an agent in November.
During the summer holidays I came up with an idea for a second book. We were in Brittany and I decided that most of the book would be set in France. I came up with a rough outline for the plot, gave my main characters names and typed a few key scenes into a spreadsheet. When I've sent my first book to an agent, I want to get stuck into this second book.
The question is now I understand Aristotle's Incline (see below), should I plan this next book scene by scene? (ie. use a map) If I do this, it would be like following the map around Westonbirt Arboretum without deviating from the planned route. When writing a scene, I always come up with ideas which impact the plot. I've decided to spend a bit of time planning the key scenes and the subplots. I'll make notes on the main characters, the confidante and the antagonist. After that I think I'll just dive in and see what happens.
Just found a link which gives a simple explanation of Aristotle's Incline: http://members.shaw.ca/sedlers/resource%20aristotle%20and%20plot%20line.htm
Did you plan your second book more than your first because you knew how?
I'd be interested to read your comments, answering this question or on anything relating to the above.