I made a post a while ago about ‘Phase Planning’, what it is and how it might work with me. I did say that I would report back once the novel was finished so here I am!
My phase plan for The King with Splintered Eyes was a numbered list of what happened, here’s a few of the numbers from early on in the novel to give you an idea of what it looked like:
CLAMSHELL: Filling in Matsuko on what happened after her and Akiko left the meeting: talk turned to the priest, he shouldn’t be a problem now, but Clamshell feels uneasy about it, suggests sending an envoy to speak with him.
Hui appears – thought about what you said and I’ve spoken with my monks. Can’t let you go, this isn’t a conflict you need to be in the middle of. Monks Cho and Zhu have volunteered to seek out the priest and invite him to speak with me.
Is that wise? Matsuko and Clamshell protest that they can’t bring him here. Not now they’ve got his god’s artefacts with them. Hui waves them off. If anything this is the safest place for him to be – we won’t just give him these things and I might be able to talk him round. Clamshell/Matsuko stewing, don’t like it
So my version of the phase plan is pretty bare bones and doesn’t really reflect the tone of the prose when I’m done except for a phrase here and there that I don’t want to forget. It’s a signpost so that I can check the story is okay before I start to write it properly.
By the time I was done with it the phase plan for The King with Splintered Eyes came in at about 20,000 words and the book itself ended up being 97,000 words long.
Just about five times longer than the plan.
I found that using a phase plan was helpful during the actual drafting. It was much easier to get out of a rut if I got stuck, I could read on without losing momentum and could jump forward if needed and then circle back without missing anything.
As you may have seen in the February writing update I’ve also finished the phase plan for my next work, Windborn, which has come in at about 29,500 words. If my writing of this book follows the the same kind of growth when I’m putting the proper words down then this draft might end up at over 140,000 words.
Honestly, this has come as a bit of a relief. I did a kind of prototype draft of this story a while back and it came in at 50,000 words and even at such a short length it felt thin on the ground and forced. Now that the story has had time to sit around in my brain and (hopefully) mature it seems like there’s enough to make this a decent sized novel. On top of that the world itself already feels deeper and more realistic.
All in all I am enjoying using phase planning, it’s a chance to get the story down and review it before I start on the draft proper. Hopefully that means that I can focus a bit more on the prose and quality of writing as the draft goes down and mean that when I’ve put the final fullstop on the draft it’ll be more akin to a second draft than a first. We shall see!
I’ll definitely write an update once the draft of Windborn is done, but for now I just want to wish you all a happy week and success in your endeavours!