1. Teladan

    Teladan Active Member

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    Skipping Sections During Writing

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by Teladan, Mar 15, 2018.

    Hello. I've recently started a larger project, but after getting only 8 pages in I'm finding it difficult to continue. It's partly that I don't have much energy for writing these days, but also the story has opened up to a sandbox structure where there are multiple possibilities. Another reason is the story I'm working on is part of an series I've been developing over many years and it's important to me. This increases the pressure on continuing. I believe I could continue by starting to write the next section, but I've always written chronologically. Surely I won't have achieved the depth of character and setting I need in this new section to which I've skipped if I haven't written what comes before it, I think to myself. Same problem here, but I think I might need to do that, to work on the next section before going back to fill in the gaps, if I'm to make progress. Every time I open my document it just becomes overwhelming. Just need some reassurance. Does anyone else do this?

    Thanks.
     
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  2. lonelystar

    lonelystar Active Member

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    I never plan and never write chronically. Not saying it's the best way to work but it's how I do it.

    I'm sure there are plenty of of people who never write chronically or only write chronically up to a certain point or after a certain point.

    I think the key is to look at the story as a whole when you edit which helps to smooth out inconsistencies either in plot or characters.
     
  3. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Senior Member

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    Yeah, this is how I write, and it's much easier to me than writing chronologically.

    You see, when you write out of order, it's possible that you'll screw some things up, but I don't think you'll do that. Considering this is part of a series you've been working on for quite some time, you're bound to know how things are meant to be no matter which part you write first. Even if you do screw up, you can always rewrite later.

    When you write out of order, you write the scenes that you want to write, first. This makes actually writing much easier, and you'll hit your stride while you're working because you're writing the scenes that you're excited about. I've also found that this way of writing has increased my own output by a factor of, at the least, three cats and several dogs.

    Now, I'm done trying to persuade you with my experience, so I'll play my completely new (First appearance!) card. "Just follow your Mind." If a certain scene is always on your mind, then, until you write it down, it'll never leave, and, if you try to to force yourself to write other scenes, it'll make the other scenes seem lackluster by comparison.

    The point is, don't force it. Go with whatever's stuck on your mind, and write it until it's unstuck. Don't try and make yourself stick to a formula that keeps failing you (No matter how well it worked for you in the past), that's literal insanity.

    Anyways, good luck out there.
     
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  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Scrivener, I noticed a few weeks ago, has a "created date" for scenes. I just went into Outline mode for my WIP to see what order I wrote my scenes in.

    I did write the beginning at the beginning.
    The next scene I wrote was maybe ten percent down the timeline.
    The next one was at about the middle of the book.
    Next, I'm back up to about twenty percent.
    Next, back to the middle.
    Next, a bit past the middle.
    Next, back up around fifteen percent.
    Next, a bit before that.
    A lot more scenes, back and forth and back and forth, and only then do I get to one of the most pivotal events between the two main characters, one that happens maybe a third of the way through.
    Then I went back to the middle.
    Then some thrashing around in the events between that pivotal event and the middle.
    Then I make a rapid sprint to about the two-thirds point.

    And so on, and so on. Now, I should make it clear that when I wrote these scenes, I didn't actually know for sure what order they'd be in; this is where they ended up. Well, ended up for now; I'm not done.

    So, clearly, I don't think that writing out of order is a problem. :) Establishing depth of character and setting, and cause and effect, is something that I'm totally fine with doing in both directions. This does mean that stuff gets rewritten, but if you're looking at a choice of making progress with the threat of some rewriting, or being totally frozen, I'd say go with the progress and the rewrite.
     
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  5. Teladan

    Teladan Active Member

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    Excellent posts, all. I think I will attempt to write out of chronological order to make progress and to get to the sections for which I have the most excitement, as you say. It's not so much that I might jumble the plot than it is the idea that the section to which I've skipped might not be as weighty as it could be because it doesn't have the gravitas of what's come before, but that might just be a risk I need to take.
     
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  6. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    *Raises hand with the rest of the non-linear crowd*

    When I got a little lost as to how to end the first act of my WIP and "skipped a section" (I did think that's what I was doing) to begin the second act, I realized that I was over-manipulating the puppets on the stage and the "skip" to the next chain of events doesn't need me to marionette all the characters over to it. That's just where the second act begins and I'm happier with it this way.
     
  7. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I've found Scrivener to be better for this than Microsoft Word :) What word processor do you use?
     
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  8. Mink

    Mink Contributor Contributor

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    Someone else suggested not writing chronologically and it's helped me so far. I can write the important stuff then go back and connect it all later.
     
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  9. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    i generally make a timeline of events in the order i want them to happen (subjected to change, of course), then I just jump around.
    Its kind of where I am now... I jumped down a section, and because I wrote that, the section before it changed and I had to go back to the beginning to give some context. Its like a jigsaw puzzle, trying to fit everything in the right spot!
    But I found that when I write chronologically, I am stunted creativity wise. I get blocks more often. My writing professor suggested that i jump around, and I've been doing it ever since!
     
  10. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I write out of sequence and Scrivener is best for skipping around the way I write. But I did start with an outline that I wrote out without trying to make it polished. And I changed it from that original outline. But it did help to have some direction.

    Sometimes you just don't have the next scene chronologically in your head, ready to go. But you are excited to write a scene from a different part of the story. Write what you are excited about. For me, going back to fill in was much easier and more interesting as I built the story around the gaps.
     
  11. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The good thing about this method is that it clarifies the direction your story is taking. Maybe all the stuff that's bogging you down at the start isn't actually necessary. Instead, you're giving yourself something concrete to focus on, if you write 'ahead.' How did the characters get to that point in the story? And etc. I think you'll find this is an easier thing to handle than it sounds like. And what's even better, if you write the scenes you're enthusiastic about, the enthusiasm will show. And pretty soon you'll be enthusiastic about connecting the scenes as well.

    I certainly did that when I wrote my novel. In fact, I started with a fairly unimportant scene in the middle of my story (it got revised later) and then I backtracked and wrote what became Chapter Two, then skipped ahead to beyond that middle scene, and etc. I think I probably wrote about 6 chapters out of order before the whole thing settled and I was able to write chronologically from then on.

    As far as plot jumbling goes, the trick is to keep a running diary as you construct the story. This is not an outline that tells you where you're going. It's a timeline that shows you where you've been. Every time you create an event, add it to the diary on the date when it happened. Add in anything else important that's happening at the same time. Then you can look back and make sure you're not putting people where they couldn't be, or confusing their ages, or writing about a woman birthing a normal-term baby only 6 months after she gets pregnant, etc. It's a huge help as you write your story ...chronologically or not.
     
  12. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I start at the beginning and type through to the end, one file, one big document. Works for me.

    But if something else works for other people, that's excellent! Experiment.
     
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  13. Indigo Abbie

    Indigo Abbie Member

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    I recall a previous big project I attempted to tackle and I forced myself to write chronologically, it didn't work out. I began my new project about a month ago and I pinned about six scenes in the first third of the novel that I knew for a fact my story would need. I would be doing something totally unrelated to writing and all the sudden get a flick of inspiration in the form of a line or feeling, before I knew it I had four future scenes written. Currently I'm writing the other two in a non-inspiration based manner, and then I'll stitch them to the others.

    The only problems I've ran into are that my scenes may change a bit, in mood or feeling, maybe time. So a few things will have to be added or removed, and most of it can be handled in revision. I guess it's no worse than problems a linear writer would have to deal with though.

    Seriously it's worth it to me to write a scene in advance if I'm fueled with in the moment inspiration. If anything those scenes are the best in my opinion, and it makes the boring bits- the string between scenes- way easier to power through.
     
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  14. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

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    I find that writing non-sequentially helps enormously. Keeps me focused on the exciting bits, helps build up the body of material, lots to work with 2nd draft onwards.
     
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  15. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    I have a question for everyone who doesn't write chronologically:
    • Do you label your scenes (for example "Fight Scene".... "Plot 1".... "After the ___Scene" etc.)?
    • Do you just insert the scene into the part of the novel you want it to go and build around it (ex. you wrote 100 pages, you think "Fight Scene" would have a huge effect on the plot if it happened back in pages 40-50 so you insert "Fight Scene" there)?
    • Do you cut away from the part you are writing to write "Fight Scene" then leave a footnote (or comment, if you are using Google Docs) about where you would like this scene to go, then pick up where you left off on the scene you were working on before?

    in short... whats your method! Just curious! I've found myself doing all 3 for different reasons!
     
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  16. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I note that I'm on the first draft of my first novel, about 3/4 of the way through.

    Yes. Well, I title them, which is approximately the same thing, though I see a small nuance of difference.

    The question seems to distinguish between "the novel" and scenes, though I may be misinterpreting? I see the novel as being composed pretty much entirely of scenes.

    I started my WIP by just writing scenes, here and there and everywhere. New scenes accepted the facts established by old scenes--or if they didn't, I either corrected the old scenes or made a note of a needed correction. I arranged the scenes in an order, and more than once re-ordered them.

    I say "I started" because the more I fill in the gaps, the more often I need (ack!) an actual purpose for a scene. That's not to say that there are a lot of scenes without a purpose, but I was tending to see the purpose after the scene was written, not before.

    Not usually. Reshuffling scenes or cutting one scene into another mostly seems to happen when the scenes in question are finished.
     
  17. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I did label the scenes and chapters I wrote out of sequence with a general name of what happened in that scene or chapter. There wasn't any point giving them chapter numbers because I didn't know for sure what the chapters would be or how many of them I'd end up with.

    However, I only wrote about five chapters out of sequence. Once I got into the story, I could see where it was going, so I didn't have any trouble writing in sequence after that, while tying in the chapters I'd already written.

    My novel begins with a prologue, but it's actually the chapter I wrote last of all—after running the non-prologue version past a number of betas. The story needed the prologue, I discovered—because of an important, secret event that occurred years before the start of the main story itself—and my betas agreed. I've never had any complaints about it.

    I've revised and rewritten the prologue and Chapter One more than any other chapters. A perfect opener is so important, but you probably won't know how to start till you're pretty much finished the whole story. At least that was my experience.

    I imagine the more stories you write, the better you'll get at nailing how to start them and you will be able to write sequentially. But whatever you do, don't allow yourself to get stalled because your initial beginning isn't 'right.' Just keep going. You can go back afterwards, during the editing process, and re-craft a perfect beginning. A perfect beginning is one that launches the story in the direction it actually goes. It not only needs to grab and hold the reader's attention, but it needs to set up what the story is actually going to be about. That may change as you write the story, so don't sweat the beginning till you're all done.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
  18. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    Use whatever technique works for you. If you cannot write the story chronologically, write a scene that popped into your head, no matter where it is in the story. The important thing is to write, otherwise mole hills become Everest-sized mountains. I've got a model of Dory from Finding Nemo on my desk that has a caption below and I modify that for your benefit: "Just keep swimmingwriting"
     
  19. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    If that is the style that works for you, then go for it.

    However, to add something new to the discussion, I would issue a warning I'd you are skipping these sections because you are a) bored by them, b) want to get onto more exciting scenes or c) not sure what you want to do, so you 'fudge' it.

    In the case of a) you have to ask yourself whether anybody will be interested in reading these scenes that you are not motivated to write. And I have some personal experience of b) and c).

    b) if you write all of your awesome "killer" scenes first, then there is the danger that this can really kill off your motivation to write those less exciting, but still as important scenes. Those scenes that serve as the climax of your novel... they're the reward, aren't they? It's like letting a child have their pudding to start and there's no incentive for them to eat their greens.

    And then for c)... This gave me a lot of trouble. I was doing very well with my first draft until I hit the middle and then got bogged down. On the other hand, I knew exactly how the last act of the novel would pan out, so I decided to fudge the middle. Lo and behold, which section of the novel did I end up spending the most time on, which section ended up being rewritten the most. And then there's all the retrospective corrections that then had to be made in light of the constant changes.

    If you know exactly what you are going to do, then fair enough - write as you please, in any order. But I might consider very carefully why it is that you are skipping that particular section, and act accordingly.
     
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  20. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do. :) But if I required that, I wouldn’t have started.

    In my case, what is exciting and fun for me to write changes depending on mood and what I’ve done lately and probably all sorts of subconscious things. It’s not that I eat all the candy and then I have to eat the beef liver—pretty much any scene has its moment when it’s candy. Each scene tends to come from an emotional bubble of energy, and if I let that bubble do what it wants, I think the scene tends to be better.

    Right now, my mind wants my two co-protagonists to get into an argument, one that edges up to violence and then shies away from it. Why? Who knows. Maybe it’s an actual need of the novel—for example, Male Protagonist has issues to work out with regard to power and violence. Maybe the novel needs me to run that through it’s paces. Or maybe I’m just feeling angry.

    But in any case, there are ample periods of conflict that could support that level of heated argument, so I can pick one and write what my brain wants to write.
     
  21. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    I don't always have a clear track, but much like what ChickenFreak said, sometimes I get inspired to write different scenes/parts for different reasons. I could spend hours on one particular scene, and then the next day, something happens in my day where I become super inspired to spend time on another scene. Sometimes I will let a whole section of my story/novel (not sure what it is yet... its too soon for labels!) rest for a couple of days then BOOM! the red bird outside made me want to write the part in my outline about my protagonist's nightmare, or something like that. It doesn't mean that I am bored with the other scenes that i don't work on; it just means that that particular scene or emotion that I want to convey in that scene is not what/how I'm feeling at the moment.
     

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