Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chronological Order is Way Overrated

Well, I’ve been stumbling along on the wip, at first eeking out 500-700 words per day for the last few days, which I was not happy with. Part of the problem is this constant reweaving and smoothing thing I’m doing, trying to graft two old drafts together, as well as add new stuff to make it work. I sometimes wonder if it would easier to just toss everything out and start fresh. Except I just can’t toss out 65,000 words. The mere idea of it makes me break out in a cold sweat. Especially since there is quite a lot of it that I’m very happy with.

So instead I’ve been stumbling along, trying to weave everything together and making only small inroads into new page territory.

Until Sunday, when I woke up and gave myself permission to jump ahead two acts to a scene I wasn’t even sure would be in the book—it certainly wasn’t on my outline--but it was calling to me. Vividly.

And Bam! 3,000 words came tumbling out, just like that. And it’s an absolutely pivotal, critical scene. There’s no way it couldn’t be in the book. I just didn’t know that until I wrote the darn thing.

Which reminded me of two important lessons.

1) It’s perfectly okay to write out of order. I know that, I preach that, and yet, I also forget that. ::le sigh::

2) I often outline or jot down upcoming scene ideas just so I can be moving in a forward direction/momentum. And the thing is, I can only write these new scenes because I’ve spent so much time reimmersing myself in the story. There’s no way I could have started out there. BUT, I am always happy to cheerfully disregard that when my muse leads me down a (seemingly) random garden path. Always follow your muse, or at least, that’s been my experience. I can honestly say I’ve never regretted it.

So now what I’m doing is jumping forward and writing a new scene from later in the book each morning, then turning to the grafting/revising part. Seems to be working well. But for how long? That’s always the question. What works today, may not work tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I've never been able to write out of order. I played with writing a few random scenes, as I worked through Donald Maass' workbook, but as I draft, it's just very hard for me to write without the scene-to-scene connection. That said, I DID give myself permission today to call several thoughts & notes a "scene" today and move on to the next scene that I thought I COULD write. :)

PJ Hoover said...

I have yet to be able to bring myself to write out of order. Revise? No problem. But first drafts I just can't do it!
But I'm so glad it worked so well for you!

Robin L said...

Ah Becky, that's the first step down this long and thorny path...just put a placeholder bit of a scene in there. Next thing you'll know, you'll be writing all over the place. :-)

PJ, I don't intend to write out of order. It IS confusing. But when I'm sitting there and nothing's coming, but I have this VIVID scene later in the book screaming to get out, well I usually just give in.

Sherrie Petersen said...

I am so glad I read this post! I was thinking about this scene today and it won't take place until chapters beyond where I am but I couldn't focus on where I was because it kept calling to me. I'm so glad it's not just me!

Anonymous said...

Thank You, thank you, THANK YOU. One of the biggest problems I have is getting characters from point A to point B. I've been dreading writing the journey but this post reminded me its okay to skip ahead to the destination.
Thanks for un-blocking a writer!

Robin L said...

Sherrie, it's definitely not just you! I think what happens is there must be something important in that distant scene, something maybe we need to know before we can write TO it.

Anon, I'm so glad you found the reminder you need to skip ahead! That is the whole point of my blatherings--hoping others will find something of use.

Sheri said...

Yep, I am becoming a firm believer in writing what you feel called to write,not just the next step in the journey. That road is hard to follow sometimes, especially when there is something new and shiny on the horizon and you want to go explore it and play with it! But of course you feel that no, you can't have fun until you have slogged through the mud to get there...

Um--NO! It's YOUR story--write it how you want to write it! Write all the fun stuff because then you know where it is going. Fill in the other stuff later because who knows? That "other stuff" may change and become the new shiny object later! LOL! Very free-ing, isn't it?!