Nicole and I started writing together a year or two before Viva Scriva came to be. She was working on a historical novel—and writing all the scenes in order. I was working on a fantasy novel— and finding out the story line by skipping and hopping, as the spirit led, from scene to merry scene.
Some time later, I set aside this and other works-in-progress to write the historical middle-grade novel I’m working on now. In this new book, I thought it was important to write the scenes in order, and I did so. I finished the earliest draft (that the Scrivas as a whole never saw) in this manner, as well as the almost-to-the-end re-write that followed.
In the meantime, Nicole attended a workshop with author Emily Whitman. One of the tips she came away with was to write the scenes she saw most clearly, or felt most strongly, first, then write the connecting bits later. That’s what she began to do, halfway through her novel.
You see what had happened, don’t you? We’d switched positions. She was now hopping around in her novel, while I was writing linearly.
More recently, I shook up my not-quite-finished novel and began to submit in a big way to the Scrivas. I gave them a fresh beginning, earlier in time than the version they’d seen before. But then… See, I need to have a finished draft to submit somewhere soon. And I realized that what I most needed, for my peace of mind, was to write the ending next. I finally knew how I wanted the book to end, and needed to know that I’d set that down.
So what did I do? I took a page from Nicole’s book. From my earlier story exploration. I wrote out of turn. Instead of revising my way through the middle of my story, and giving that to the Scrivas next, I skipped on to the end.
Then I backtracked and gave the middle to the Scrivas—well, the middle of the middle. Then they saw that section’s end.
Going forward, I’ll revise and fill in bits in the beginning, do the same with the first part of the middle, and then carry on all the way to the end.
Confused? So are the Scrivas. Still, they’ve been able to give me awesome comments, even though they (and I!) are looking forward to seeing the whole story in proper order.
The point of this post is that—learning from Nicole and me—at different times, for different reasons, you may need to write or revise your story linearly. At other times, you may need to skip around. Don’t worry about it. Just do what best serves the story and your current writing needs.
In case you’re wondering, what the Scrivas saw of my draft was:
What they’ll see going forward:
-Beginning, 1—revised from above
-Middle, 1—revised from a couple of years ago
-and so on, to a proper end.
Best wishes for your writing, in or out of turn.
-Sabina I. Rascol