This morning, I posted the following question on twitter:
Polling my fellow #writers here: Do any of you write your scenes out of order or write the ending and then work backwards?
I had only two responses and both said they wrote their works out of order. One writer, Josh Stanton, said,
I write all over the place and piece it together later. I write what excites me at the time of sitting in chair.
Now, Jack London did once say that you have to go after inspiration with a club, but there is something to be said about writing what’s on your mind at that very moment. I suppose there will always be those scenes or chapters that will be pure agony to write, but there’s no rule that says you have to write in chronological order. There’s a lot of writing software out there that allows the writer to move scenes and chapters around as desired. (Scrivener, which I use, allows for that.)
I’m writing about this today because on Fridays, I like to give a little update on Willows of Fate and I’ve found myself writing out of chronological order. I’ve been a little worried that I’m writing out of character for Desdemona (my main character) but it occurred to me that I’m writing her as I envision her to be at this point in the story. Besides, this is a rough draft. It’s not like I’m going to publish this right after I finish this draft.
A lot of writing advice has been given about finding one’s voice, but not so much on technique (other than the usual ‘don’t write on a computer connected to the internet, don’t expect it to be perfect on your first try, don’t feed the characters after midnight’). When I began writing out of order, I stopped and worried, “Am I doing this wrong?”
Though there are plenty of ways in which to do something wrong in a novel, I’m beginning to think you can’t go wrong in how you write it. Whether you listen to music or don’t, or whether you prefer a computer or a notebook, there’s no wrong answer. It’s beginning to dawn on me that finding the best way to construct a story is almost (if just as) important as finding your own voice in the story.
Besides, Willows of Fate is meant to be a great big experiment for me in a lot of ways. I might as well throw ‘writing out of order’ into the mix.
How about you guys? What’s your particular way of writing? Do you like to stay in order or do you throw all caution to the wind? I’d really love to hear from you all!