Following her success last year with ‘It’s Raining Men’, Milly Johnson has again been shortlisted in the Romantic Comedy category for the 2015 RoNa Awards. At last year’s awards ceremony I was sitting at the next table to Milly and the excitement when her name was announced as the winner was, to say the very least, infectious.
I’m delighted to welcome Milly today as she talks to us about plotting:
I used to think that I would never make a writer because I can’t plot. I’ve tried it with every book andit has never worked yet. My author friends who plot can’t believe I can write a book and not plot – and vice versa. I envy them so much because it seems the best way to work with every chapter stitched up before you let loose on the actual writing. But I can’t do it. I know the ending – more or less – at least I know who ends up with who and that it will be a happy one, because that’s what I do, but as for chapter by chapter activity, I haven’t a clue until I do it what action will happen in each section.
If I were to describe what is going on in my head when I write a book, I would compare it to driving a car in thick fog. I can only see 3 yards in front of me. So I drive to that point, where I can see the next 3 yards in front, and so it goes on. There are scenes I have in my head but I don’t know when they will happen. I just write and I ‘get a feeling’ what should come next. This means that I often get a thrill when something unexpected pops up in my head. For instance, I’ve just finished book 11 – The Woman Who Gave Up Chocolate – and there was a character in it that was just a throwaway person, meant to do a job and then disappear. I didn’t intend that he’d have more of an important role at the start so it was news to me when I needed a bit of a love interest and he fitted the bill exactly.
Trust me, before I start every book, I have a great big pad and try to plot it out, but I’m 11 books and 2 novellas in and it hasn’t happened yet as I intended, so I’m guessing it won’t now. I’m about to start writing book 12 so my pad is out and my pen is poised hoping that this time will be different, but deep down I know it won’t. The only way I can plot a book is after I’ve written it, by which I mean after the first edit, I go back, analyse each chapter and make sure that all the action follows a credible timeline. It usually does, give or take a tweak.
I don’t know how my brain works, but it churns out the book in its own little way so I won’t be too school-marmy on it. I just hope it carries on!
Milly, your description reminds me of an artist slapping oils onto a canvas, seemingly randomly, and ending up with a beautiful painting. I am much comforted. I try so hard to plot but, with usually just an outline plan in my head and a few written notes, I start at the beginning and work through to the end. Your fog analogy is brilliant.
So, it’s March (already! Can you believe it?) and next Monday brings the RoNas. The RNA certainly knows how to do glitzy and I’m looking forward to the evening immensely. I wish you every luck with The Teashop on the Corner. Whatever happens it will be a stunning event and there is no doubt that ALL those who have been nominated are winners. Have a great time and thank you for joining me today.