Hello, fellow WriMos! It’s week three! Pat yourself on the back. If you’ve gotten even 1,000 words down, you deserve it. Writing is a hard business. This week, I want to talk to you about something that I have been highly conflicted about for the past few years: writing scenes out of order. (NOTE: Of late, I have been jumping around from project to project. And I think that’s okay. For now, I’m going to be referring to my current WIP(s) as the Super-Secret Project, or SSP.)
In SSP, I haven’t really had time to settle down and write exposition, for any of my projects. I’ve found myself wanting to jump right into it more and more of late, and I’m beginning to realize that it often provides discontinuities with my work. I pants (for those of you unfamiliar with the lingo, “pants” refers to the act of writing seat-of-the-pants, or without an outline) almost all of my work, and I really don’t know where a lot of the character development is going, which makes it hard to write, especially contemporary ideas where the main focus of the novel is the characters and how they develop.
So the Question: To Write Out of Order Or Not To Write Out of Order?
A year ago, I would have said, vehemently, no. But I think my view is changing. As I edit my first manuscript in parallel with writing SSP, I’m realizing more and more that, even as I write in order, there are odd breaks in my writing. I can see clearly where I took breaks from my novel, and how disjointed the character voices and plot sequencing is after I resumed writing. The fact is, novels take a long time to write, and life doesn’t really stop for you. So really, there’s a bit of discontinuity in character development, even if you don’t write the scenes out of order. So let’s take a closer look at the Pros and Cons of writing a novel out of order:
- You get the scene out of you and done!
- You know what’s going to happen later, so you can set up exposition and stuff to match up with it earlier in the story
- You get to write something you’re really pumped about, which is always important.
- (If you’re a Pantser…) Congratulations! You now know where your story is going.
- WHOA I JUST DISCOVERED AN AMAZING NEW ROUTE FOR MY STORY I LOVE IT I AM NOW OFFICIALLY A PANTSER-OUT-OF-ORDER-WRITER
- You don’t allow the story to develop naturally, ESPECIALLY if you’re a pantser, like me.
- It’s harder to go back and write the boring parts later.
- You don’t get the emotional relief and closure that you feel when smacking “the end” on a truly completed novel, because you know you’re going to have to go back and string the bits together.
- (If you’re a Planner…) Oh, goodness… now where does this piece about magical flying unicorns fit into my story?? (And I say this strictly because Pantsers usually end up making the most wonderfully nonsensical stories by jamming together anything and everything they find in the fluff of their brain.)
- Come to me plot bunnies! Come to me and feed me wonderful ideas with your carrots and undeniably cute twitchy noses!
As most things go, I don’t think I can decide what’s right for you. I know that for me, personally, it sometimes works to write things out of order, and sometimes doesn’t. With SSP, it’s definitely working. For The CyberWorld, which was more planned out, and had a number of plot twists, it wouldn’t have worked to write scenes out of order.
In general, I personally would not go for writing scenes out of order. A number of my writing buddies have taken this approach, and I’m glad it works for them. I just don’t think it’ll work for me. For me, even when I start writing a scene out of order, I take it and transform it into a number of scenes that have story arcs on their own.
What do you think? Are you an Orderer, or Out-of-Orderer? Enjoy the last week of NaNoWriMo, and above all, remember to have FUN with your writing! 😀
The 62-Page Test
Oh, and just for fun, I decided to do the 62 page test with my novel! For those of you unfamiliar with it, you basically flip to the 62nd page of any novel (or maybe the 63rd… I can’t quite remember, but close enough) and read the first, say, paragraph on that page, instead of reading the first paragraph of the novel. I thought this was quite the interesting idea, so here you have the first lines of Page 62 of The CyberWorld:
** note: typo on line 1 (I know, embarrassing, right?), but it’s supposed to say “not seeing” not “unseeing”
Excerpt, Novel, and Ideas (c) The Books and Bark Blog