1. Ms. DiAnonyma
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    Ms. DiAnonyma Active Member

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    Consecutive writing or skipping?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ms. DiAnonyma, Dec 29, 2015.

    I know there are such classifications as 'pantsers' and 'planners'- but I was wondering about something related- (probably more of a planners' question, though I'd appreciate anybody's response).

    Do you write each chapter consecutively, just one after the other, or do you skip around? Skipping would seem risky, leaving gaps in your story that might not mesh with parts written at different times in different orders. But, if you have a part of your story (that you've got a big picture for) further down the plotline and have already got it figured out, do you just write it? Or do you save it for later? (you never know after all what else will come up before it that might work its way in). I've only heard of someone writing a book by skipping around once- and they never finished it. Does this work for any of you, or does it just make the process harder?
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015
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  2. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    This is a difficult question, I have trouble with it myself.

    For the first third of the story, just making things up when they were needed was completely fine. I mean I knew the characters, and had a clear finish line in sight. But since the halfway point I got aware of all the slight storylines I've left hanging and which should come together in a seemless whole at the endgame, so that started me down the planners part of the storyline.

    I did never skip, being at heart a pantser, but at more than the halfway point I feel myself becoming a planner. And I still do not skip as I find it important that the story comes together whole, and I feel that is not possible if you skip around. Each scene I write more often than not comes out slightly different than what I intended when starting writing it. So I really have to wait for what comes out at each scene to adjust the next chapter/scene to it.

    Only once I've written a scene down the line (about 3 scenes down the line) but I had a very clear picture what it looked and felt like. It was almost begging to be written (and the events at the proper scene were really quite horrible), and I hope I will never need to do it again.

    My two cents.
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    If I feel/imagine a scene but I know it's not due to come up for many chapters I'll write it out and then go back to writing from where I left off but that's as out of order as I get. For my WIP I started at Chapter 1 I'm now at Chapter 23. I haven't be-bopped around except to write a few scenes ahead of schedule. One of which got misplaced.

    Since a novel takes a while to write I find it helpful to write out some scenes when I think of them, because I don't want to forget about them. And jotting down a line or so doesn't cut it for me - well, not always, mostly I need the full scene to understand where I was taking it. Or why it interested me. Even if those scenes don't make it into the final story, I don't find it a loss. It's good practice.

    My thing is to write out the scene but not to continue writing from that point and to avoid this I make sure the scene is left open ended - no resolution allowing the scene to be placed anywhere.
    Plus it's also handy when you're bored with or stalled on the novel. It can give you a break and still make you feel like you're making progress.
     
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  4. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I started by skipping around, but then I realized I need to work consecutively in order to finish things, make sure I write the less exciting parts, and make sure everything strings together.

    Every now and then I'll write something out of continuity and throw it out as something to write toward. But in terms of the main plot, I personally need to do consecutive - plus if I don't, the stuff I wrote that's way ahead in the plot will have to be re-written by the time I get there, seeing as the story shapeshifts on me (I'm mostly a Discovery Writer/Pantser - not sure how this works for outliners).
     
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  5. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's better to do everything in order as everything that comes after is predicated by what came before.
    And it's so easy to have consistency issues or new ideas that worm their way into the piece, that it'll just mean everything will need to be rewritten just so it fits together.
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Different strokes for different folks.

    There are those who write linearly (I'm one of them) and those who hop around (I have a crit partner who does this, and her stuff comes out fine).

    Experiment. If you get stuck, try something new.

    I don't think there's one best way for any of this.
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In my own experience, the story lent itself to writing scenes and putting them together later. It allowed me to skip past a more difficult scene or one I was't sure I'd use and go on to writing something I was more sure of.

    You do need to be willing to throw some chapters out if they don't fit in when you are done.

    About 80% through though, I have the thing mostly in order now and I'm finishing it up by going straight through.
     
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  8. kateamedeo
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    kateamedeo Active Member

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    Hello, Ms. DiAnonyma!
    I am working on a book now, it all began completely without planning, I wrote ahead, skipping some parts (found out I needed them later on after the first draft was written). The plot came to me as I was writing it, so had to add other scenes for the story to make any sense. If this counts as skipping ahead, then I did skip, although, unknowingly :)
     
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  9. R.P. Kraul
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    R.P. Kraul Member

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    For the most part, I write A-Z, but in my most complex book--it has many POVs--I didn't write chronologically but did it more by character. Boy, you talk about an editing challenge, coordinating those scenes with the central timeline--it's not something I endeavor to do again.
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I certainly skipped around while writing my novel ...and yes, I finished it.

    While I had a general idea of what my story would be, I found that I imagined scenes (in great detail) completely out of order. Rather than lose that detail and immersion, I wrote the scenes as they came to me. It was later on that I wrote transitional chapters, etc. During the edit I actually swapped a couple of chapters, so that I wasn't repeating myself. It all fell together pretty easily.

    I've started writing my second novel. Because it's a direct sequel to the first, I've been writing in a linear fashion. However, I've reached the point where I think I am going to start skipping ahead.

    Skipping allows you to nail really important scenes as you envision them, and allow your characters to grow in an organic way. The more of these vital scenes you write, the more your story shapes itself. Building transitions between them is easy, once the picture gets sharper. I feel if you stick grimly to a linear way of working, you can easily go off down the wrong track and not know it. By the time you get to the key scenes, you may have swamped your story with stuff that wasn't really all that important, but just SEEMED important as you wrote it. This doesn't happen to everybody, of course, and if you're comfortable working to a pre-planned outline, fair enough. But that method doesn't work well for me.

    The one thing that IS important though, if you're a skipper ...you MUST keep track of what you've done. For that, I establish a timeline right at the start. Whenever a character in one of my key scenes does something important, it gets noted in the timeline. Day, date, etc. That way you don't end up writing two things that clash with one another, time-wise, or become impossible to achieve within the stated time. If something happens at school, it has to happen during the school year. If something happens at Christmas, it can't come before Easter in the same calendar year, etc. This kind of thing. Keep track of the ages of your characters in any given year, if your story spans years. Birthdays, etc. You don't need to plan these things beforehand, but once you've written them into your story, then note them in your timeline. Keep checking your timeline as you add more scenes and chapters. That way you won't lose control of your story or make continuity errors you'll struggle to undo.

    I keep my timeline on my computer, so I can add in things as needed. Because I write historical novels, I also add in 'real' events that occur during the period as well, so my story doesn't take place in a vacuum. I may not mention these events in the story itself, but I know they happened. And if I do want to mention them, they'll be in the right place in my story.
     
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  11. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    If by 'consecutively', you mean linear, then yes. Though through many edits, a lot got chopped out. Chapters were not part of the equation (do they really hold any significance to the story as a whole anyway? Seriously I want to know.).

    I probably write linear so as not to confuse my self, despite having 'scenes' on my mind that take place further than where I am currently writing. Possibly to avoid putting the whole thing together out of sequence. :D
     
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  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    My first novel I wrote non-chronologically, but I had a detailed outline, so I was sure not to miss anything along the way. I think that helped, but still I had to add chapters (and remove some) in the revision. I don't see any problem with that and I don't really think it matters, as long as you know what you're doing. :)
     
  13. Annihilation
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    Annihilation Active Member

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    I have a notebook where I write down all of my notes and details for coming scenes. I never write my story out of order, as in filling in the middle or most important scenes first. I just write from beginning to end, and along the way, new ideas are created so I write them down in my notebook.

    It's very helpful to keep a notebook. When I'm in doubt, I look through my notebook.
     
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  14. Toomanypens
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    Toomanypens Member

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    I "write in ink" first.
    Before computers there used to be two artists when designing comic books, there was the one who drew in pencil and the one who filled in the ink.
    I hate pencils, and by pencils I mean that I hate scribbling and sketching if my end goal is a truly sharp end product.
    I want to use ink, and I want to feel the danger of getting a sentence wrong.
    I stopped making multiple saves of drafts (one draft), I stopped leaving notes in brackets, I stopped putting in filler or writing ahead.
    I write in INK.

    The reason I do this is actually counter intuitive.
    When you write in pencil you keep rewriting and sketching around in circles, never sure if anything fits and where it goes.
    When you write in ink you have to make a call and trust your call.
    Once done, I end up with what I would call an "ink draft", one draft, now ready to be reshaped. If I wrote the draft in pencil however, the drafting stage never ENDS, and I end up fiddling with things forever.

    I believe it is better to use ink first, so you end up WITH A DRAFT, rather than struggle with a pencil to make a BOOK before it is TIME.

    Write in ink because it is a draft, and a record of the FIRST idea. I believe it is important to do it that way so you have a singular reference point to go back to and change, and it helps keep me in line.

    The first draft and the final book both matter equally imo. Both need to be taken seriously and taken all the way.


    That's just my perversion though :p
    I tell you about it so you have a reference point for "consecutive writer's" like myself.
    I believe in two permanent ideas, first and last, so that is how I write.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2015
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  15. Ms. DiAnonyma
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    Ms. DiAnonyma Active Member

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    Thanks for all the responses! Nice to have your perspectives.
     
  16. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Another linear writer here. Its the only thing that makes sense to me. I may imagine scenes that are far in advance but one of the things I've learned is that I will mentally revisit those scenes and replay them several times. Each time they get tweaked ever-so-slightly so by the time I actually write them out they are pretty darn good. ;) Another reason I write that way is for motivation. To me the ending is the payoff for all the drudgery of the actual writing. If I were to skip ahead to the ending or other juicy parts I don't know that I would maintain interest and motivation to write the more pedestrian parts.

    I just completed and e-published my third novel and it gets easier every time, so this method works for me.
     
  17. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    I just got back into writing. When I was younger, I wrote linear. Never finished more than 30k words of any story. Now, I decided to make a series and totally outlined the first three books from start to finish. I forced myself to do this. After I was done I decided I would write the chapters that I was completely passionate about. I started with the third chapter of the second book. After I was done, I would go to the next random chapter that peaked my interest most. If I ran into a small hole in the outline, I would just update it with a new scene or idea. As of write now I have over 150k words and I am confident I will finish everything by years end. This really helped me with writers block.
    I also have completed the editing of these chapters so I know they are good to go. I have some beta readers and a sister that is an English teacher to help me when I finish a chapter.
     
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  18. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    I am glad you started this thread. I'm contemplating this at the moment with my own stuff.
     
  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I couldn't write consecutively if my life depended on it. Not for longer works, anyway. :dead:

    What makes this work for me is that I am very open to the idea that a scene that comes to me can have more than one life, like a hand-full of Legos can be made into many different things, all with the exact same set of blocks. I'm working on a story now* that came to me with a setting, a scene, and handfull of characters. The way it originally came to me, the scene looks like an opening scene where we first get introduces to the characters. It's not. That scene still exists in my "this will come later" folder. I know where it will go, but I haven't written the parts that connect to that slice of the timeline yet. It also means that I have to rework the behavior and motivations for the characters in the original scene because things have changed. But that's ok. I'm cool with that. The scene itself is not a throw-away. It just needs to be reworked, and I already know the shifts and changes that will be needed.

    * please don't critique the post if you happen to read it unless you wish to do so for your own benefit and growth. I'm not fishing for crits. And the scene is utterly transformed at this point from what I had posted. Just using it as an example of what had been an opening scene, now reworked much later into the story, and heavily repurposed.
     
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  20. TheoremAlpha
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    TheoremAlpha Member

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    I hate writing in a straight line.

    In fact, the way I write is rather unorthodox compared to most:
    I will write in random chunks, some of them the types of endings I'd like to see.
    Some of them filler content.
    Some of them beginnings to interesting events that can either be new chapters, or new starts entirely.
    Some of them random, interesting interactions the characters may have.
    Or maybe something completely random I don't even know where is going, but could be cool SOMEHOW.

    Then after I have about 20-50 short stories, I'll find ways to fill in the gaps between them, and modify them so that their content makes sense when compared to the other writings.

    All their own little self contained short stories, left open for more detail later on.

    And in doing so, it keeps things AMAZINGLY interesting to write because you can just write what you want, without worrying about how it impacts other things you previous wrote.
    Because you don't know how it will impact it.

    And that is the most exciting thing in the world to me.
     
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