Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Writing By Design...Or Not

~~How do you write--linearly, chunks, or something entirely different? Do you use an outline or write as the story comes to you? Diana Gabaldon, award-winning, multiple NYT best-selling author writes in chunks without knowing the full story. Check out her current essay, "The Shape of Things" at the Books and Writers Forum.

~~When I started writing, I'd have sworn I was a linear, point A to point B type of writer and even have an outline for my current story. But things have a way of changing when you least expect it. ; ) I've written many separate scenes scattered here and there across the outline and the last third is solid.

~~And then I got blocked. Nothing I tried with the front of the story was working, but that's all changed now . The reason may surprise you. As I transferred the bits and pieces that reside in my Rough Draft file to Scrivener, I've been rereading...and my eyes have opened. Now that I know how the story ends, I know what the front two thirds of the story need to do. I'm excited again and the juices are flowing. The new plan is to write backwards. Really. ; ) My notes from the reread will guide me. So wish me luck.

~~Happy writing, everyone!


  1. I wrote the last quarter of my novel backwards. Started with the last scene, then wrote the scene before that, then before that, etc. And I wrote it before I wrote most of the beginning. I say whatever works and keeps you writing. Have fun.

  2. Thanks, Sara. I'm excited. The notes I took are really starting my brain again. Cross your fingers. ; )

  3. You know, it's funny. I used to be sort of linear. Maybe going back to add a few scenes here and there. But Rosa's story was all over the place. And then Ayten's came out rather linearly, since I drafted 3/4 of it during NaNo. So, who knows...
    I still - except during NaNo - write only once I've got the 'kernel' of a scene, a la Diana. I need that initial word or vision or feeling...

  4. Glad to hear you're unstuck! I tend to be a linear writer, but I don't really outline. I tried writing in chunks 2 NaNo's ago, and it mostly worked but I wasn't too comfortable with it. To each their own, I guess! [g]

  5. I need the initial kernel, too. It's strange how cold, dry, and boring the scenes are that I force myself to write. I understand needing the feeling, word, vision, etc.

  6. You said it, Romantic Scientist! I'm never going to say I'm one way or the other ever again. ; )

  7. That is delightful news!
    All paths lead to Rome...eventually.

    I sometimes write in chunks, then move to linear etc. All depends on what I'm writing.
    But you've hit on a great solution to what must have been terrible frustration.
    And, you know, there are so many writers who, having finally finished the entire draft, go back and re-write the beginning.

    Happy writing!

  8. Carol,
    I have heard of the rewriters. In fact, that is daunting to me, but I'm off and running again and even wrote *new words* this morning! ; ) So something is working.

  9. Zan Marie,

    I'm a linear writer all the way. I plot, outline via mind maps, character study, and everything else through a novel or nonfiction. I have nothing but admiration for writers like Diane who write in chunks and then put them all together. I do write scenes in notes scattered here and there as the idea strikes me, but when I write...I write from beginning to end.

  10. Jo,
    I think I'm developing into a hybrid so some sort. I do have an outline, but the longer I work on the WIP, the more it changes. ; )

  11. I've heard so many good things about Scrivener that I'm tempted to leave my beloved Microsoft Word 2010 to see if it is any better. I certainly am satisfied with word...and it seems to be the program that most people use so file formats are easy to email.

    I do wish you luck with your edits. Sometimes a little distance also helps. But I've had those eye-opening moments where clarity just suddenly dawns upon you.

    If you ever need help, don't be afraid to ask.

  12. Michael,
    I'm not abandoning MSWord. I'll use it for the initial dictations and then shift to Scrivener. Supposely my dictation program and Scrivener for Word don't play nice. The advantage of Scrivener is the ability to just drag any scene to anywhere in order and Poof! it moves in the whole file. ; )

    And I understand that when you print/export out of Scrivner, you can format it for Word. I'm not that far along yet.

  13. Oh how I wish I could write in chunks. I love the idea of being able to write any scene, any time, because it seems so freeing. But so far I'm a chronological writer. I don't seem to be able to move forward until I get the next scene right. And I've still got to check out Scrivener.

  14. I never thought I'd write chunks, but once I have a rough idea of what's in the story, I can.

    BTW, I'm more in love with Scivener every day. ; )


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