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Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by snabjorn, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. snabjorn

    snabjorn Dreamer

    So... I'm kind of stuck pretty early on in the novel I'm trying to write atm. Because I don't have one of the first chapters all figured out yet. I do however have some of the later chapters kind of figured out. Is that weird?
    And do any of you ever skip some chapters and then start writing other parts first? Like jump around a bit? Or do you go straight from 1 to 2 and 2 to 3 and so on?
    I know it's probably a stupid question because I should be doing it the way I want and how it works for me. (Right?) The problem is just that it's not really working for me right now. And I just wanted to know if I'm the only one who think that that might be a good way of doing it? :)
    I really miss writing and new ideas pop up all the time, but I just can't seem to get it going :confused:
  2. Noma Galway

    Noma Galway Archmage

    I skip around a lot, but right now I'm trying to write linearly. If you're that stuck, just skip whatever it is you're working on. I don't view it as weird :)
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    The standard answer for all questions like this tends to be: "Do what feels right for you."

    Sometimes that's enough and other times it isn't.

    As I recall skip.knox who posts here quite a bit likes to hop around and write whatever seems most interesting at the time. I'm sure there are others who work the same way and they're probably a lot better at giving advice on working like that, than I am.

    So, instead of telling you what to do, I'll just rant a little about how I do it. I get the impression it probably won't work for you, but maybe you can get some ideas or some inspiration from it? Maybe it'll get you started in some direction - and that'd be better than sitting still doing nothing, right?
    Also, it's an excuse for me not to go do my workout just yet.

    So, me...
    I'm an outliner and as such I'm fairly organized.
    I've outlined my plot repeatedly in more and more detail every time. About halfway through I realized I'd done it wrong so I did it all over again for the second half. I'll probably do the same thing for the first few chapters once I finish everything else.

    I start out with a vague description of the basic concept of the story (boy meets girl) and then I add to it (boy starts a new school and meets a girl who also just started at the school). So I've got a start already (boy starts a new school), and I've got something that happens to him (meets a girl) and I've got a little bit of information about the girl.
    I also have loads of questions: why does he start a new school, how does he like it there, who's the new girl, where does she come from, what happens after they met?

    The last one's pretty important. I probably already have a hunch about what happens, but I'm still asking the question to illustrate the process.

    In this way I'm able to add more and more details to the story and figure things out as I discover them. Eventually I'll get to the writing part and if I've done my preparations right I can just sit down and churn out the words, without having to worry too much about the actual plot. I can focus on just the wordcrafting itself, and that's something I really enjoy.

    Personally, I like doing it in order, from beginning to end, but I'm sure that if you've got your story planned out well enough you can write it in whatever order you like.

    Depending on who you are and how you work you may not need to plan too much. Maybe you just have a vague idea about the start but a good grasp on the middle? You can probably start on the middle and begin your writing there. This might even help you get a better idea of what the beginning needs to hold.
    If you just throw yourself into the middle of the story, you'll get a feel for what needs to be explained in the earlier parts (where does the boy come from, why does he start a new school).
    I found that this happened quite a bit to me - even though I planned things out carefully. There are a lot of things that need to be added to the early part of my story in order for later parts to make sense (She's an airship salesman? I didn't know they had airships in your setting).

    Plot twist: The girl the boy meets in the example above is really an experimental android that's being tested in live environment.
    I don't know what happens after that.
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Personally, I don't jump around much. I tend to write linearly. But I also know where I'm going. I outline to at least the middle of the book before I even consider starting.

    With that said, I don't think it's uncommon for some writers to jump around. So yeah, do what feels right.


    I do have a question though. When you say you don't have a chapter figured out, what does that mean? Maybe if you let us know what you're trying to achieve with that chapter and where you think you're falling short, we can give you some suggestions on how to proceed.
  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Decades ago, I'd write whatever interesting scene popped into my head. Led to a lot of dead ends.

    Anymore, I don't start writing a tale unless I have at least semi-solid ideas for the beginning, middle and end.

    That said, yes, I still run into problem scenes. I usually skip those until later as long as I have good ideas for the before and after parts.
  6. Fyle

    Fyle Inkling

    I generally can't jump around. I'm a linear writer too (if a past story I really wanna tell comes to me, I include it in a flashback or something of the like... or work it in as a prologue)

    I just take notes when I think of something good I am not ready to flesh out ...
  7. soggymuse

    soggymuse Dreamer

    It's not weird at all.

    I used to write linearly because I wrote in Word, and I always felt like it was a chore because you had to write the next scene and the next scene and the next scene, rather than whichever scene currently inspired you. Then I got Liquid Story Binder XE and started writing in "builders", which are two-panel documents. On one side is a list of "scenes" (which you can title how you want and have a brief summary so you can remember what the scene is about) and on the other a notepad dedicated to each scene. Click on, say, "MC1 meets MC2" and you can write their intro scene; click on "fight!" and you can write the finale, etc.

    You can use the builders for other stuff, too. If you prefer to write chapter by chapter, each item in a builder can be its own chapter. For the first couple of drafts, I keep scenes independent so I can move them up and down in the builder until I'm satisfied they're in the right place.

    Since I began skipping around to write scenes as they come to me, I'm much happier as a writer. It proved really successful for the first book in my trilogy, too, though not so much for the sequel. (I'm not sure how much of my struggling with Book 2 is related to my process and how much is related to mental fatigue, though; skipping around still works for me better than trying to write linearly.) I recently got stuck in the middle of Book 2, so I just started writing around that bit and gradually filling in the blanks.

    Bottom line, if skipping around works for you, I'd recommend it. Otherwise, if you prefer to write linearly, then at least jot down notes for future scenes as they come to you so you have something to work off when it comes to actually writing them.
  8. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

    Sometimes I skip. Sometimes I write linearly. It all depends on what is possible on any given day.

    Sometimes I get stuck in the middle of scene or chapter but I know what happens before and after one point. On occassions like that Imake notes about what has to happen in bullet points or italicised notes so I can see where these poblem ares are in the text. Then I carry on because I know that as the scene progresses the issues will become magically resolved and they almost always are.

    I think it's a matter of clearing your head of the most important aspects of a scene or chapter, getting them on paper, so you can resolve the less important bits such as transitions in time or place, or filling in B when A and C are both sorted.

    The same is so for when I come across a gaping plot hole. Somewhere before or after it is the answer I need to fill it, even if it spans several chapters. It's usually a matter of perserverance on my part.
  9. Addison

    Addison Auror

    When I started writing my current WIP I was bouncing all over the place. I started in the middle of my beginning, then I went to the middle, ending, middle, different middle, beginning....I got dizzy. Writing the beginning was the hardest part. I followed a tip and started rambling about where the character was (either when the story began or background) and it took me to the right beginning. So if you have a hiccup in the beginning I suggest starting as if it's a character background. If stuck in the middle, do NOT backtrack. Skip forward. You're stuck on M, write P or Q, then your imagination will automatically fill in the gap.
  10. Bansidhe

    Bansidhe Minstrel

    Sometimes jumping around helps if you're stuck somewhere--you never know if something later on will unstick you!

    Screenwriters write out of order all the time, so it's not at all unusual. I identify all my major plot points on a story map ahead of time, so that if I do jump around, I'm still on track (thank you, Scrivener!). Sometimes I change my writing method or location as well--sometimes just a change of scenery, or moving from computer to paper and pen does wonders, even if you're just brainstorming.

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