by Laura Drake
In the last Writers in the Storm ‘throwdown’ (if you missed it, it was character driven vs. plot driven writing.) I was more than willing to admit that both sides of the argument are valid – even necessary to a great story.
But this time? The other side of the coin terrifies me.
Do you start at the beginning of your novel, and write straight through? Or do random scenes come to you, so you write them and then, at the end, stitch them together like you would a granny-square afghan?
I’m so far to the linear side of this one that I can’t even see the middle. I like things orderly — bordering on regimented. I love routine. My library is in order by author, then by title. I admit to not being able to go to bed if there are dishes in the sink, and I can’t leave the house in the morning unless my bed is made. I’m a bean-counter in my other life and it fits me well. I like things to balance – to fit neatly into the little boxes I make. But life is messy, and the little buggers won’t stay there!
Control freak? Huh. No, not me.
But before the other WITS bloggers schedule an intervention, let me get back on the subject.
I write in as close to a straight line as I’m able. I start (in a perfect world) on scene one, then move to scene two and write that, and so on. That doesn’t mean that I have no idea what’s going to happen through the story.
While I’m riding my bike, I may have a flash of an idea for a scene farther into the book. I record the thought on my voice recorder (one of the best inventions ever.) When I get home, I jot notes about the scene on a 3X5 index card. This allows me to reorder scenes with a quick shuffle. By the end of the book, I have a three to six inch stack of index scene cards.
There are disadvantages to the linear method though, I will admit.
- It takes me forever to get started with a new book.
- I’m not sure of the character’s traits, or the backstory that caused them. And I can’t begin until I know!
- I wring my hands.
- I write in fits and starts.
- I whine to my crit group. They’re wonderful, helping me look ahead and plot, reminding me that I’m not losing it; I always do this at the beginning.
I also use excel as a tool to help me see the big picture. I’m including it here in case you’d find it useful. Below is a snapshot of my “Cheat Sheet.” I create a file for each book. First is a quick chapter review. I fill in the page and word count as the chapter is completed.
The next sheet is my detailed “Scene Sheet” breaking down the chapters. It gives more detail on what happens, and gives me a bird’s eye view of upward and downward movement of the protagonist, as well as turning points.
Drawbacks aside, Linear works for me. I’m a character-driven writer. It takes a long time to develop a rich, multi-layered protagonist. A lot of that I find out through naturally progressing through scenes, and the character’s arc, I don’t know it all when I start. If I didn’t write linearly, I could end up spending time on a scene at the end of the book that isn’t true to that character!
Aren’t you scattergunners afraid of that? Why not?
Which comes naturally to you? Linear or Scattergun?
Don’t forget to check back on Wednesday when Jenny answers the challenge and discusses the dreaded non-linear side. *shudder*
The dark side.