I’m going to figure my plot out next Saturday at noon

I was listening to an interview with the prolific British historical novelist Bernard Cornwell (who, oddly, lives on Cape Cod, not that far from my little South Shore town).  In it, he said that he doesn’t plot out his books ahead of time, although he wished he could.  He recalled that he recently had to finish his latest novel before catching a plane the next day (presumably because of a deadline), but he had no idea how it was supposed to end.  So he got up at three in the morning, the ending came to him, and he finished the book by noon, in time for him to catch his flight.

This is odd, but somehow that’s the way it often works.  I have been noodling about a plot problem in my latest novel for a while now.  Something hadn’t worked in the first draft, but I didn’t know how to fix it.  Earlier this week I reached the point in the second draft where I had to figure this out.  I had non-writing stuff to do for a few days, and my next writing session was going to be Saturday at noon.  So I sat down on Saturday, mulled things over for a while, and the new plot-line came to me.  Right on schedule.

Writing fiction doesn’t always work that way, but life is much more pleasant when it does.

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