Wednesday 12 October 2011


I don't plan when I write; I just let things happen. Ths is lazy, I know, but I like to surprise myself as well as the reader. I genuinely admire those authors who paper their walls with post-it notes, and know exactly where they're going, but it's just not for me. I wouldn't know where (or how) to start.

So I was comforted to read this from Rose Tremain:

In the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.

Tremain is a wonderful writer. I'm currently reading - and loving - her latest novel, Trespass. it's good to know that novels like The Road Home were allowed to find their own pace, so I shall continue on my unordained journey with renewed hope.



  1. I have to know the ending before I start, but I'm not too worried about knowing the rest. I couldn't do the post-it note approach but I like to have an idea of the destination (if only so I know whether I'm writing a comedy or a tragedy).

    The historical I am researching at the moment presents a new challenge since it is essentially a retelling of actual events - so the ending would be a question of when I choose to turn off the tap rather than installing new plumbing.

  2. That's interesting, Tim. Are you giving up the fantasy novels?

  3. More having a break, I think.

    A latent fascination with the Fourth Crusade has flowered and I am reading round the subject to see if I can squeeze a novel out of it. (Actually, the structure of the crusade lends itself to a trilogy, but that's not something I'm thinking too much about...)

  4. Reassuring indeed, Frances. I've never been able to plan any piece of writing so far as I think it's the haracters who decide where it's going!

  5. I agree with Rosemary. I am led by the characters and they always decide for me what will happen next. Even if I set out with an inkling of what might evolve, it invariably changes as the characters develop.

  6. Have you read Sally Beauman's continuation of the classic "Rebecca"? It's some years since I've read it, but I remember the distinct feeling of disappointment towards the end of the book. To me, it felt as if the author had, after a certain point, simply wanted to get it over with; maybe she was under pressure from her publisher, or she had lost her initial enthusiasm for either writing at all or this book in particular.
    I wonder whether she planned the ending and then took a short cut, or did not plan it and ran out of ideas.

  7. There are so many voices 'out there' giving a gamut of different advice on this from 'go with the flow' to 'don't even think of starting without a completed spreadsheet' that the best advice is probably to do what works for you. Or have a plan but be flexible if it takes a different course maybe?

  8. I'm not a planner either. I once gave myself a shock when I had two people kiss. It was an "how did that happen" moment.

  9. Ray Bradbury would agree with you, Frances, and as he's a genius I wouldn't disagree when he said planning a book was 'like putting the footprints before the footsteps'.

  10. I love Rose Tremain's books.

    Does this mean there another Garrood masterpiece is imminent?

    I've nominated you for the Friendly Blogger Award, Frances. If you decide to accept, please pop over to my blog to collect.

  11. Thanks, Rosemary and Joanna. I'm glad you agree!

    Librarian, no, I haven't read that one, but I have read other novels which have that hurried ending feel!

    Hi, Broken Biro.. Yes - I think we all have to do whatever works. I just can't help admiring the planners!

    Colette, it's lovely when things just happen like that, isn't it?

    That's a great quote, Lynne!

    Hi Gail. I have a confession. I've already received two friendly blogger awards, but am not sure where to put them (sounds pethetic)so they aren't visible! But thank you very much for thinking of me. The next book is probably going to be non-fiction. I just need the idea - and opening and synopsis - to be accepted by a publisher (no pressure there, then...)So I can't say it's exactly imminent, or a masterpiece!

  12. Having been thoroughly brainwashed by Larry Brooks of, I am completely relieved to know that you don't plan ahead, Frances. I'm of that school too, but had managed to be persuaded that without a plan, I'd be lost at sea.