IWSG 95: As Easy As Writing Looks, It’s Not


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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.

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co-hosts

SE WhiteCathrina ConstantineNatalie AguireJoylene Nowell Butler | Jacqui Murray

OPTIONAL IWSG DAY QUESTION:

When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

I hope you take everything here with a grain of salt—if not for you, for me—then I can relax while I share.

Writing Goals

I’m always seeking new information about the craft and recently heard some great advice for the discovery writer—aka pantser.

Write the ending first—ish. Mid-point twist too if you’d like.

This really hit home with me because I’m a Sagittarian. We like to shoot off our arrows and follow them to the bitter end.

I’ll admit my first ending is never my last ending—thank goodness for revisions—but it supplies a general direction and a final destination.

Writing Beginnings

I really want a kick-@$$ first line, first paragraph, first chapter, and to find the first line I do an internet search for best/top first lines in fiction.

They are the best for a reason; they’re inspirational.

The monthly question could also be asking: where to start? Like where on the timeline or storyline?

It is said, through my reading on how to improve the craft, that the best point to start as close to change as possible.

I try to come from the reader’s perspective here.

Like any good joke, there is the setup. Just enough information to so the punchline makes sense when it hits. The opening could focus on a fantastical world so the reader knows they aren’t in Kansas anymore. It could even focus on the person singing under a rainbow before the mind-whirling trip. Or the ruby slippers and who is wearing them.

The choice becomes clearer when I look at my destination, and I decide how to get there.

Writing through

I have my goal and an enormous gap of where I am and where I have to go. I aim myself in the general direction and write. All is well with my world.

However, sometimes I stare at the screen and wonder what’s next. If I’m not writing, my brain is telling me a direct route will fail. I need to think outside the box and the circle the box is in. There may even be a triangle in there somewhere.

Jumping to another scene is a good way to stay in the story while I figure out what my problem is. Because there is a problem. I just don’t see it yet.

Usually I’m using the wrong point of view, or am ignoring the plot hole staring me down, or I’m blindly painting myself into a corner with an unnoticed hallway directly behind me.

It takes time for my subconscious to find the solution. I let it bubble up, then I’m rolling again with a better story than I first imagined.

Now, a question for you

You ever do that, jump around in your story? How does that work for you?

 

54 responses to “IWSG 95: As Easy As Writing Looks, It’s Not

  1. I don’t jump around in my story, but I’ve heard other writers recommend it too. I do need to know my major plot points before I start writing though. It helps shape the story a lot better than if I totally am a panster.

  2. Hi,
    I don’t usually jump around because I have my plot in my head or posted somewhere on my whiteboard. However, there have been times when I have written a chapter ahead of time because the words for that chapter were coming at me.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Shalom aleichem

  3. spunkonastick

    Jumping to another scene is always how I’ve done it. Although writing the ending first is a good idea.

  4. I never thought about writing the ending first, but – even as an out & out pantser – I’m coming round to the benefit of at least knowing what the ending will be before I start. I never have a problem with the start, that’s easy. I am experimenting with bits of a plan, a skeleton if you like. I think I’ll add writing the ending first to that experiment and see how it works out. 🙂

    Debs posting today from Fiction Can Be Fun
    Normally found at Debs Despatches

  5. It’s always good to know where you’re going if you ever plan to get there, right? I have gone and written a scene I knew would happen and really motivated me if I got stuck. If my story changed, I could always adjust it.

  6. For longer works, I usually try to figure out as much stuff as I can before I start writing so I can write more straight through. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way, but why should it, right? 🙂

  7. I nodded so many times throughout this post! I don’t generally jump the timeline, but I move to a different story and let the subconscious do its thing. I always have the end in mind – can’t get there if I don’t know where I’m going!

    • Yep. Makes me think of an old TV commercial: Two old men on a porch. One says, “You can’t get there from here.” The other nodds, knowlingly.

      hehehe

  8. When I first started writing, I would jump around, but now I tend to write in order.

    • I feel like I’m starting from the beginning again with my huge break in the middle. I’m sure experience is what helps you with your overall storylines. 🙂

      I’m back to figuring it all out. Lucky me. hehehe

  9. One of the ladies in my writing group says she nearly always writes the ending first then goes back to fill the story in around that. As a pantser who never knows where my couple will end up (other than together because romance and HEA) that baffles me just as much as my panster ways baffle her. LOL So many paths to get to the same basic destination.

    Because I am a pantser I typically write in a linear fashion. I can’t know where they are going until I know where they’ve been so to speak. Sometimes a random scene will hit me and I’ll write it out. It’s usually not complete and I’m not sure where it’ll fit in the story, heck sometimes I’m not even sure IF it’ll fit, but still I write it if I’m stuck and I can’t get it out of my head.

  10. I like how you described the whole process. Working on the end, the beginning and the middle. I love great opening lines too. Keep thinking of them for my stories.

  11. Loni Townsend

    I love how you’ve got circles and boxes and even a few triangles. Certainly makes for interesting stories!

    I used to jump around all the time, but after I finished the first draft of book 2, that stopped. I guess I had my road map by then, even though everything changed and changed and changed again. That might be the idea of having the ending written. Now, I find myself going back to the beginning repeatedly, which doesn’t help me make it through to the end again. Someday, though. Someday.

  12. I don’t jump around in my story. If I can’t write it in order it’s supposed to go, I’m usually stuck, until I come up with something that would spur my story into moving once again.
    As for the first lines – I’m dismal with them. But I know a writer who is wonderful with first lines. Check out the futuristic romance After Dark by Jayne Castle. It has the best first paragraph I ever read.

  13. I always jump around in my writing. Different scenes and ideas come to me out of order, and I like to get them on paper before I lose the thread. That is the beauty of cut and paste.

    Sagittarian arrows. Hmmm – now you’ve got me thinking about my Aries qualities. . .

  14. When I started my first novel there was no internet and our library was an hour away. Frustrating doesn’t do justice to the times. Though my sons were young, so there’s that. You sound like you have this writing thing figured out. Kudos, Anna. I always enjoy your blog. Thanks.

  15. I have never done a jump around. My
    Own leo birth sign powers on in a systematic fashion. I do, do lots of planning. I create the 5 major plots points/challenges, think through the beginning and end. I find creating the teaser helps me focus on the voice. Happy IWSG day!

  16. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    Thank you for introducing me to the term “discovery writer,” Anna! That sounds so much nicer than “pantser.” I can never start with the end of my story, because I never know the ending when I start. I have to write to find my story, because often I have only an emotion or a place or a scrap of conversation. I’m a Pisces. I don’t know if that is significant or not to my style ~ I do flounder around a lot ~ lol! We’re all unique, and whatever works for each on of us is the right process. Thanks for sharing your process, and happy writing in June!

  17. Interesting technique. I’ve never jumped around in the story. But, I’ll remember that the next time I’m stuck!

  18. Hi, Anna! Interesting idea to start writing at the end. I do like jumping scenes if something isn’t working. Happy writing!

  19. Discovery writer. That’s a new term for an old concept that describes how I write. I never thought about writing the ending first. I’m such a linear thinker that wouldn’t come naturally. But since I’m stuck in my WIP, I’m going to try it. Thanks.

  20. I used to jump around a lot, but not so much anymore. Now I start from the beginning and work my way forward, scene by scene, to the end. I do at least know in advance what the ending will be. I don’t write it until I get to it, but I do know what it will be. That’s important for my process.

  21. I think I’ve tried a little bit of everything over the last 10 years of writing. One book I even wrote backwards. Seriously! It had me so twisted that I set everything aside and started with where I wanted to end up and asked what would have happened right before that. Then, how did they get here, and so on, taking one step backward until I reached “the beginning.” I only did that once though. Now I usually sketch out the beginning, a few plot points to keep me moving forward and the end goal. Then I let my characters wander where they will along the way.

  22. I don’t worry (too much) about first word. Since I’m a discovery writer, I’m still fleshing out the story as I go. Edits, for me, are where the real writing happens.

  23. I’ve never heard the term “discovery writer.” Interesting. I generally know how the story will end and some of the scenes that will happen somewhere between point A and point B, but I don’t write scenes out of order. I would just end up having to rewrite them because by the time I got to where the scenes should be, the story would have changed from what I expected and the scenes would play out differently. I never know exactly how the story will go until I get there. I do keep the scenes in mind, though, and they give a general direction. Sometimes. Maybe.

  24. I’m a “plantser.” I plan my stories with the snowflake method but give up and start writing before I get an actual scene-by-scene outline. I typically have my major plot points identified and a pretty solid idea of the ending (in general terms at least). When I’m drafting, sometimes I skip around if I’m in the mood to write a particular scene calling me or, more likely, if I’m feeling stuck. One of the things I love about Scrivener is that it makes it really easy to skip around, because you can create placeholders for scenes you haven’t written yet or move scenes around easily.

  25. I think jumping around (in the draft anyway) is a good technique to shift your focus as an author and to start a fresh part of the story/writing journey.

    I’m a Sagittarius as well and I like your description about following our arrows to the end. I never thought about this before, but like you, I am never done until I’m finished! 🙂

  26. Hi Anna!
    I was scrolling down in your comments and discovered very interesting points of view.
    Knowing the major plot points does give good direction to the story.
    Jumping around? Yes, I do – but from one piece to another, especially if I’m stuck. Or maybe even jumping from a poem to a flash fiction piece. The variety lends a fresh perspective.

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