Friday, February 4, 2011

The Ultimate Definition of Scattered Writing. Does it work?

Sometimes you have to do something backwards in order to move forwards. At least, if you're me you do. Normally I'm a good girl and I write the way I'm supposed to. I outline. I draft. I start at the beginning and work my way to the end.

For Mysterious Other Novel this wasn't working. I'd put a lot of time into brainstorming and I knew roughly what needed to happen. I sort of knew who these people were, the details of their world, and the arcs I wanted for each of them. I knew some of the ways I was going to get them there. But, every time I sat down to outline, it felt wrong. I couldn't do it. I was stalled.

So, I started writing paragraphs. Paragraphs from all different parts of the story. Currently I have a word document filled with non-chronological paragraphs. As I write each paragraph, I have an idea for another, somewhere else in the story. As I'm doing this, I'm well aware that it is probably the most insane and illogical method of writing a novel ever. I'm going to have to go back and organize all of this. Figure out how to connect it and fill in the gaps. Put it in order. It will be a nightmare.

So, why is it kind of working?

I have this thing I do. I do it when I write and I do it when I choreograph. I love the big picture. Love, love, love it. Everything means something, everything adds up and everything ties together satisfactorily. The problem is, sometimes this comes at the sacrifice of moments. It's hard to live in the moment when everything is propelling you towards the end.

Maybe that is why this is working. It's my way of breaking the sequence and forcing myself to examine each moment as a moment and not just a means to an end.

Or, I could just be crazy.

What about you? What rules have you broken in order to proceed? Do you always start at the beginning? Does it work for you?


  1. A poetry teacher once listened to a poem of a classmate of mine, and told her to, "Now, write it backwards." Instead of a linear progression of lovely "words", it became a jolt of images and multiple layers of meaning. Shaking up our order of doing things is very good for our brains and developing new neural pathways. If stuck, I highly recommend it.

  2. As long as it works for you and you love it, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks! So no, you are not crazy.

    I am a very linear writer. But it's so neat to see how different people are in their methods.

  3. I've tried writing out of order before, but it doesn't work for me. I work best when I start at the beginning and work forward.

  4. I started by writing scenes as they came to me and then tried to fit them into the novel. They all ended up getting cut eventually (poor little darlings) but I found it useful for developing characters and figuring out backstory.

  5. Hey, you have another minion! just picked you up at Alleged Author.

    I write in scenes, not chapters. I make sure I put big brave print so I can easily collate later. My first novel I wrote in chapters and kept moving things around, so my method now is not unlike yours. Apparently a lot of people write in scenes and actually act them out to see if they flow.

    Lovely to meet you. All the best with your writing and I hope you pop by to check out my blog. I currently have a Publication Party series happening where recently-pubbed authors are sharing their journeys. The most current post is the second on my blog ATM.

    Hope you can pop by!


  6. No, you're not crazy. Because if you are, I am too! I don't always write non-linear, but sometimes there's just a scene that needs writing, and it might not fit into anything I'm working on at the moment, but I know instinctively that it will, eventually.

    Hey, we're artists. Not everything we do makes sense. :)

  7. PB - I wonder if it is like in art class when they have students draw things upside down. Doing so forces the students to stop leaning on their assumptions and actually look at the thing they're trying to draw. Or, maybe not.

    Lydia - Ha, I hope it works for me!

    Heather - I'm usually the same way. Don't know why my brain suddenly decided it wanted to do this.

    Carrie - That's interesting that you ended up cutting them. Once you wrote the scenes, did you go back and start filling in the cracks from the beginning?

    L'Aussie - Welcome! Glad you found your way here. One of the things that appeals to me about this method is that I'm a lot more comfortable shifting things around chronologically to see what works. I still haven't figured out exactly how I want to open this story.

    Jennifer - Ha, maybe we're all crazy! Maybe that's the secret to successful writing. ;)