The way I write comes as a surprise to many people, readers and writers alike, but I can't help the way I do it: I don’t write my books chronologically.
Yes, I do start at the beginning and go from there. Sort of. My beginnings have a tendency to be cursed. My critique group laughs at me because I’ll bring what I think is my first chapter with the heading reading only, "Chapter." I won’t commit to it being "Chapter One" until later, because way too often I’ve had to rewrite the chapter—several times, start elsewhere in the story, or (worst of all) trash the section altogether.
Once I figure out the beginning, I generally go on my merry way for several scenes or chapters. But then I can’t help myself; I always jump ahead.
While I don’t write strict outlines of my books with every scene and plot point pre-determined, I do have a general idea of where I’m going. If the plot has points from A to Z, I know what D, G, K, P, and W are. I also know Z. But I don’t always know how I’ll get from A to D or what will fill the gap between D and G. Or exactly how K will develop to that point.
And sometimes even when I do know some of these things, I get really excited about an upcoming scene at say, L or S, and want to write it now. So I do. I figure it’ll come out better when my creative side is on fire about it than waiting until I write another 40,000 words to reach the scene the "real" way. By then my excitement might have petered out, and the resulting scene will be watered-down.
When I fill in the gaps and bridge to the later scenes I’ve already written, some details will have changed, and those scenes that I wrote out of order must be revised—sometimes significantly, sometimes just a tad here and there.
As I’ve mentioned before, I do a ton of my drafting on the fly with my AlphaSmart Neo. If it weren’t for that trusty tool, I wouldn’t get nearly much done.
But with each book, thanks to my upside-down, topsy-turvy way of plotting it out, eventually I reach a point where can’t just sit down and spit out the next scene. I have to be in front of the computer with the entire manuscript before me. That way I can read for flow, see where the holes are and how various scenes need to interconnect, and so on.
As wonderful as the gadget is, I can’t do that on my Neo.
Which makes for difficult drafting of the remaining fourth or so of a book, which for me isn’t the ending fourth of the pages.
That’s where I am now. Some days I have a specific scene I can write on my Neo, such as yesterday, when I sat in the car and wrote as my husband drove us down to Manti for research. (way cool visit, by the way. I’ll report on that soon.)
But such writing jaunts are getting harder and harder as the spots I need to bridge are shrinking and the chronology needs to be clarified and smoothed out.
Which makes my current 4-week challenge, well, more of a challenge for me.
Thanks to everyone who has wished me luck on this last leg.
If only my Neo could help me right to the bitter end . . . sniff.
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