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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Space-Time Continuum

One of my really good writing buddies writes out of order and then weaves it all together at the end. She's an excellent writer and storyteller and I enjoy her stories very much, but I admit to being baffled on how she does it. I write in order because doing anything else wastes too much time for me.

When I was writing Ravyn's Flight, I knew scenes that were coming long before I got there. Sometimes when I got stuck, I'd jump ahead and write when of those scenes and every single time the scene was unusable as it was. I either ended up deleting it entirely or I would rewrite it so drastically that it bore little resemblance to the original version. It was frustrating, but it had to be done.

I know why it doesn't work for me. Notice the for me in that sentence. Write whatever way works for you, and if it's out of order, that's what you do. Like I said, one of my writing buddies is pure awesome and this is what works for her.

With that caveat, I know why it doesn't work for me. Each scene is a building block, linking to the scene in front of it. My characters are on an arc of change throughout their stories and when I jumped ahead to write a later scene, I was writing it with who the hero and heroine were at that moment. Only six chapters later or whatever, they weren't the same people. The scene didn't fit anymore because my characters would make different decisions after going through what had happened in the intervening chapters.

The scenes that didn't fit at all anymore? To me, that means the character changed so much that they wouldn't make the choice any longer that put them in that situation. It's a good thing. It means they really are evolving as the story progresses, and while it left me frustrated, I didn't waste much time forcing it.

But it taught me one thing. I need to write in order no matter what. Even a book with a lot of flashbacks--like Eternal Nights--had to be written in order because Kendall, my heroine, needed different information depending on how far along she was in her growth arc. 

There are times I kind of wish skipping around wasn't such a waste of effort for me. A lot of times I know an upcoming scene, but have no idea how I'm getting there. I'd love to be able to write that scene while it's fresh in my mind and not let it stew there, jettisoning details I'll have to struggle to remember later. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way for me.

I'll close out with one of my mantras: Writer whichever way works for you.