I really should have learnt by now, it's such an old and obvious lesson, but sometimes I still forget.
Planning can be pointless.
I'd don't mean in general. In most areas of writing, planning is vital. I would never go into a teaching session, or book talk, or start writing a novel without planning.
But there are some areas where it's redundant. As I was forced to remember (painfully) this week.
I had an important section of my new book to write, and much of it was based around dialogue. So, the night before, I duly sketched out what the characters would be saying...
And dawn the next day, when I tried to write the scene, it wouldn't come. So I made a stupid error and tried to force it. Which meant it did come...
Awfully and worse.
It was all wooden and unnatural and just, basically rubbish squared.
Cue the usual Hall wailing and agonising and general melodrama. Until I took time to think for a few minutes.
Of course it wouldn't come! For a very obvious reason.
Who, in this life, plans their conversations? We might decide what we need to talk about, but we don't detail what we're going to say.
And as writing is a reflection of life, and dialogue is supposed to sound natural...
I went back to the scene, scrapped the previous tosh and just let it unfold, with the characters acting and talking as I felt they would.
And what do you know? It worked, all nice and easy.
For our characters to be real, just like their authors, there are some things in their world they can plan... and some which just have to happen.
Yes, it's good to be spontaneous... so long as you plan it.