Take off First, Plot Course Later

Episode#5 "Wrong Way Feldman", Gilligan's Island
By Alison Bruce

If I flew an aircraft like I write a book, Transport Canada would be revoking my pilot’s license. When I sit down and start a new story, it’s strictly seat-of-the-pants. Some idea, or scene, or opening line will strike me and I take off from there. Later, I start plotting my course. (I think they have a rule about making flight plans first.)

For me, it’s important to get that first creative surge down so I can get a sense of whether or not the story is worth the hours of research, writing and rewriting necessary to produce a novel. Some ideas just don’t fly. Some fly the wrong way or take the scenic route, as I like to put it. (My navigation on car trips can also be a bit like "Wrong Way Feldman." Just ask my family.)

A Bodyguard to Remember was a little unusual in that I wrote almost the entire first draft by the seat of my pants. I don’t usually get further than the first couple of chapters before I go into planning mode. Partly this was because I had a most of the basic law enforcement research at my fingertips after working on Deadly Legacy. I also had a good background in military protocols because of personal and family experience and academic research.

As it turned out, a lot of the military parts ended up being jettisoned. They weighed  the story down and had to go. If I had planned things earlier in the story, they might not have been there at all. One set of characters, that I was very fond of, didn’t make it into the book at all. I didn’t just dump them, though. They’ll take flight in another story... maybe the next installment of Men in Uniform... or the one after.


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