Trying a New Approach With Writing

Monday, May 16, 2022

I can't say this year has been my best work with writing, but I've been consistently submitting, revising, and typing up stories as much as possible. One short story of mine that's been a touch-and-go process for a while now found some momentum that surprised me. 

First, some background. I am not much of an outlining writer. In part, what has helped this, is the fact that I write short stories. But even then, if I ever attempted a novel again, I wonder if I'd feel differently. Whenever I have outlined, it totally drains my momentum to write a story.

However, with the particular I mentioned above, let's call this my "trip to Mars" story, I know the ending already. I wrote a section that is basically the final scene I have in mind. I mentioned it to a writing friend of mine and she told me how she couldn't write like that, that she was a chronological writer. 

I realized that I'm completely fine writing out of order. In fact, knowing the endpoint of this story has actually helped me continue writing it. I don't understand how knowing an ending helps me when outlining doesn't. You'd figure that one would be as helpful as the other. But to me, there's a difference.

So, as you try to get yourself back on track, pay attention to what works for you. Maybe you write your endings first, like me. Or maybe you really do better with an outline. 

Sometimes you really don't know what has helped you unless you write it out or talk about it. So, if you have a writing buddy, talk about what's helping you continue forward. Pay attention to what helps them and compare and contrast. You might be surprised by what you learn.


Andrea said...

Have you seen a psychiatrist lately? Just kidding. I suppose I'm am kind of chronological. I write scenes in order as much as I can, but then I go back and add in pieces as they develop, not necessarily in order.

Another thing, I've found that I can't talk about my present piece, whatever it is, until I've come to some sort of finish of the first version/draft. If I discuss it before I finish it I usually lose every connection to it and may never complete it.

I agree with you though. Do what works for you.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Nicole ~ Writing out of order is a great exercise, and you might even take it a step further. There's a technique used in CNF writing, where you write scenes in sections, then print them out and cut them up and re-arrange them in a surprising order to create interesting juxtapositions in the storyline. Chronological is easiest on the reader, but trying a different chronology--whether it's reverse, circular, braided, or collage--might provide the impact you're looking for. When I have a straightforward story (read: somewhat boring), I find that trying a new technique, like having the ending be the opening, adds new perspective to a piece. Publishers are looking for something different, so why not try a new arrangement.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Hmm. I guess I'm a chronological writer but most books for young readers are chronological. If I get stuck, I'll jump ahead and write a scene that I know and then bridge the gap but for the most part I write in the order it will appear to the reader.

Nicole Pyles said...

@Andrea: hahaha, your question made me laugh! And actually, I'm absolutely the same way about talking about anything new. I just can't! If I do, the momentum is gone. I took a risk even vaguely mentioning it here but it's been one of those stories of mine that feel like an ongoing project that I'm too deep into to ruin for myself (hopefully!).

@Angela: so true! I have heard of that exercise too actually and never tried it in any official way. It helps me for to know what I'm writing towards! And sometimes can be a guiding post for the whole story.

@Sue: Yeah that's definitely what I do too if I get stick!

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