Friday, February 21, 2014

Why You Should Write Your Novel Out of Sequence

Many authors on the message boards claim to write their novels in sequence, starting with chapter 1, then on to chapter 2, then chapter 3, all the way to the end.

That surprises me, because I don't write that way and I don't see how it could possibly be a good idea.

When I work on a novel manuscript, I write whatever part of the story inspires me at the time. It doesn't matter to me if that is the first chapter of the narrative or the last. Once I feel I have enough material for the book, that's when I arrange everything in order, and add whatever may be missing and smooth out the manuscript into its final form. That's the "hard work" part. Arranging all the creativity after it's all been written down.

But if I were writing in sequence, what would I do with all the creative ideas for scenes, characters and dialog that come to me that don't belong at the start of the book? That would mean ignoring and stifling my own creativity.

It's hard for me to believe authors ignore or simply don't think of all these ideas while writing their narratives. And if I don't write them down when I think of them, I risk forgetting and losing everything.

I haven't experienced writer's block. And I think one of the reasons is that I don't write in sequence. I write wherever inspiration takes me. That gives me more options, especially if nothing comes to me for the early chapters.

The second reason for avoiding writer's block is that I work on many book manuscripts at once. Perhaps too many. But when you juggle numerous book ideas and are willing to write at any point in any narrative, it's tough to not actually think of anything to write!

This is how my first novel Murder at the Library Conference was finished. After most everything was written, I then decided what needed to go in chapter 1, then chapter 2, etc. I fished around in the manuscript, found what I had decided was chapter 2, then cut and pasted it into that chapter in the final product.

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