Imagine, if you will, that a writer has two… er… let's call them "friends" when writing.
First, meet Phanta*, the Phoenix of Pantsing**:
- Enjoys a good wine… or three
- Loves all the characters so much and will never kill them off, hurt or maim them ever
- Paints abstract watercolours at 3am, then throws them all in the bin the next day
Next, meet Chris*, the Couch-Sloth of Plotting***:
- Subsists entirely on chocolate, coffee and spreadsheets
- Takes forever to get going. Seriously, give this beast a six-month heads up and, maybe, there will be a plan
- Pushes characters into the fiery pit traps Phanta made of the plot and doesn't care if they die
Chris and Phanta "help" when I'm trying to write. (Perhaps you can see now why progress is not a straight line.)
How the Book 4 plot is going at present...
Fox: I need help.
Chris: Let's sort some things out. We've got "subtle magic". What is it?
Phanta: It's a soft magic system! It has no rules.
Chris: But we still need to know what it does.
Phanta: It does magic!
Chris: What sort of magic?
Phanta: Magicky magic.
Chris: But it must have SOME parameters – who can use it, general limitations, purpose…
Phanta: (looks around, then whispers) Come closer.
Chris: (steps forward hesitantly)
Phanta: It fills in all the plot holes at the end. (grins maniacally) See? Magic!
Fox: (sighs deeply)
*Phanta chose these names on the spot, but names may change if Chris comes up with better ideas. They usually do.
**A pantser is someone who doesn't make a plan or outline first. They dive in and fly by the seat of their pants. It's fun – until the fires of burning plot-lines and ideas left on the stove for too long catch their wings and it all crashes down in a flaming heap. Despite this inevitable disaster, they rise from the ashes to do it all again on the next project.
***A plotter is someone who meticulously plans and outlines their story, characters and world before writing. Everything goes swimmingly and it's all lovely and wonderful, like eating hazelnut chocolate. Until it doesn't, and the plot runs up against an impenetrable stone wall. The only way over is to think beyond the bounds of the plan. The only way over is to fly.