michelel72: (General-Writing-CoffeeWriting)
michelel72 ([personal profile] michelel72) wrote2014-05-27 12:00 pm

Running to stand still

Some people are linear writers. I respect that; I say, whatever works is what you should do.

I'm not a linear writer. I don't think I ever have been. I get ideas for scenes, and if I don't record them in some fashion, I'll lose them -- either entirely or "just" the flow that makes them work. That's particularly a problem when the details into and out of a scene, or from one scene to another, are ridiculously hard to pull from my brain, and I only get so much time with my brain in creative-writing-mode in the first place.

(I'm constantly crafting or polishing scenes in my head, but my day job involves a completely different, highly technical writing style. I'm lucky when that only makes my fiction dry and stilted.)

So I write scenes as I have the motivation for them, in whatever order they're willing to come out of me, and I make notes about linking material when I know that much. Those scenes-and-notes then serve as an outline that I gradually inflate into an actual story, eventually.

This means, though, that I don't post works-in-progress; my style doesn't suit, even if I were otherwise inclined. (I also really need the style and general continuity to be solid. I recently finished reading a story that had clearly been posted in-progress, and the number of details that changed randomly, sometimes due to revelations in the ongoing canon and sometimes due to apparent writer inattention, drove me up a tree.) More than the patchwork nature, though, is the simple fact that as I work those scenes into a narrative, they sometimes go astray.

Last night, for example, I finally got my brain into that particular state it needs for writing. (Far enough from work and bored enough of time-killing games, basically.) I added 1745 words to the very next part of a story I've been working on for years. That may well be more than I've managed to write in about a year, honestly, and it's barely a drop against the 20,000 words of scenes and notes I already have in place.

... And it sends the story in a very different direction than I was expecting.

I mean. I know my initial tendencies veer far too deeply into woobie country. ("Lemon chicken" fics are my guilty pleasure, okay?) My work is much stronger when I see how schmaltzy I've gotten and pull it back to something more reasonable. I've already seen several points in my existing notes that make me roll my eyes at myself; I already knew that certain early ideas were going to change drastically.

But I really didn't expect to find myself writing one of the characters striking another unexpectedly, nor to have the two of them sit down and talk around the topic of the example their parents set. This changes their entire dynamic, at the very start of the very long story, and ... I don't know. I'm not sure how I feel about this development. I think it works for them, at least eventually, but does it work at this point in their relationship? Do I need to rework all those other scenes, or do I need to rip out what I just wrote (something that felt like a natural development, and I can't tell you how rare that is lately)?

Sometimes I envy you linear writers.
dread_pirate: (Default)

[personal profile] dread_pirate 2014-05-27 05:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I love how oppositely we approach writing! I write linearly, but that doesn't mean I only think the work through that way. I jump around, imagining various later scenes while driving, but I don't let myself write it out of order, for exactly the reason you've now discovered. Sometimes, what comes out when you're in the zone is better than anything you'd previously thought you knew about these people, and I would rather serve the characters in the best way I can than hold onto how I thought they would later handle a plot point.

I didn't always feel this way. I used to force the story back around to the scenes I wanted to include, even if the characters were no longer on that path at all. And my previous long works were pretty terrible for it. It's one of my big writing growth moments to be able to say, no, this is a better story than I had in mind before, and roll into the great unknown it opens up.