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Here's a question and please forgive me if it has already been addressed but do any of you ever write out of sequence and has it been successful/helpful for you to write this way?

Normally, I write in sequence but at the moment I have two characters that are roaming in my head (not for fanfiction but an original story). They are becoming more fleshed out in my brain but right now I have only a ghost of a plot. I have ideas but they are more like puzzle pieces that haven't been fit together yet.

So now that these characters are becoming more 3 dimensional in my head (I've yet to write anything down), random dialogue scenes keep popping up in my head. My intention is to write them down and have them part of the story, even though I don't know exactly that is yet (these characters just won't let go though, so I know there is a story to be told somewhere). My thought process is that by writing down the scenes even if I don't have a developed plot yet, it will help jumpstart more ideas or at the very least "flesh out" my characters even more.

I apologize in advance if I seem to be rambling. I am not even finished with my first cup of coffee yet.

10/2/2012 #1
Writing out of sequence is definitely fine. If you're writing down something, it's certainly progress. Interestingly enough, one of my stories I'm in the midst of editing is a Pokemon/zombie fic where the plot is out of sequence. Each sequence in time is broken up by line breaks. While this may seem confusing one of the main reasons I did it this way is for the mysterious ness. I mean generally when there are zombies, the story doesn't end too well, and it must end so instead of going the familiar route, I change things up.
10/2/2012 #2

Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors and an excellent blogger on writing, says that he's written books that were plotted beforehand and ones that sort of formed organically. So there's no right or wrong way to do it.

In one of my chapters, two characters have an argument that the main POV character can hear snippets of, but not the whole thing. I wrote out the argument on a separate page so that I can reference it even though the reader never hears it completely. I've also finished writing the epilogue, despite only being halfway through the 30 chapter story.

I think the important thing is to simply write. If you have characters conversing in your head, then write it down. You may end up using the dialogue, you may not, but it's still there for your benefit and helps you figure out that person's "voice."

10/2/2012 #3

I am new to this forum, and only have one story (In Progress) so far, but I will chime in here, for what it's worth. It has been very helpful for me to write whatever the writing muse dictates, whether it is in sequence or not. First, I believe that writing what pops into your head can not only produce excellent work, because you ARE visualizing it in detail, but it can also lead to visualizing other moments in your story which were perhaps a little uncertain in your mind. Second, you never know when the writing muse is at your elbow, or what she wants you to write about! Accept the inspiration and go for it! It makes up for other times when you struggle from one paragraph to the next. And third, I believe that you strengthen your writing skills by using them, so even if you end up with a fragment that you ultimately reject (this happens to me all the time!), you will have "exercised", so to speak, and be in better form for having done so.

I hope this helps.

10/2/2012 #4

I have written out of sequence before, usually when I hit some type of block and I know what is going to happen later. However, I cannot recall in all the years I've been writing, penning scenes without a definitive plot in mind; just a basic idea that is more character structured. It's a new course of action for me and it will be interesting to see if it works out.

10/2/2012 #5
That Way

I rarely write things in-sequence. Even when it's just a short story or one-shot and I know the basic plot. Sometimes the climax is the thing that's clearest so I start there. Or maybe it's scene 7 in a 12 scene story, or chapter 18 out of 41. I write what I can, when I can and figure it out how it all hangs together later on. Sometimes those connections become obvious as each scene develops and it's a simple matter of transitioning. Other times there's a lot of manipulation and revision that comes into play to make a coherent story out of the jumble. A scene I really loved and had planned on being really important becomes a minor one, possible insignificant enough that it needs to be cut.

Of course, I'd say about a third of my writing is published out of sequence as well, so maybe that makes it all easier for me then the average writer. Writing things out of sequence can sometimes even open you up to the possibility that maybe chapter 1 actually works better as a flashback in chapter 10 and the story really doesn't start until chapter 4.

10/2/2012 #6
Corinne Tate

Write whatever comes to you, and you never know where it will lead. I wrote the epilogue of my story after about chapter ten. My story has detoured, and I won't use the epi, but I can still borrow from it and it will be even better than what I first wrote. I think the key is to be adaptable, and not try to force the scenes into the story when you get there.

If your characters are already messing around in your head, even without a story, you should definitely write them down. I bet as soon as you do, you'll be surprised at what they get up to once they're set free.

10/2/2012 #7

Writing out of sequence as in flashbacks, or whole chapters far ahead of where the rest of the body of work currently stands?

Some people write the 'juicy scenes' first, to give themselves something to work toward. That doesn't work for me. The 'juicy scenes' are what encourages me to slog through the rest of the scenes that lead up to it.

What parts would you write out of sequence? Why would you? Would you pub them like that, or just keep them in your idea folder until it's time?

10/2/2012 #8

I mostly write in sequence - of the story, that is. Most of my stories are linear, but that is because most of them are one-shots. My multi-chapter series, on the other hand, is a little different. It is mostly linear, but not in all places: I do use some form of flash-backs at times, more in the second part (which in itself is a kind of a flash-back: I go back in time to tell what have happened to a character that was mostly off-stage in the first part) than the first. Though I don't use the italic-flash back where suddenly a character remembers the past all that much. It is more a matter of telling what has happened to a character we have not seen before, or revealing information of things that has happened, but the readers have not been told before. Either because they have not needed to, or (mostly) because the tension would be spoiled if it had been told earlier. I also have characters telling other characters of things that have happened, instead of showing them because I don't want to show them directly.

But I mostly write chapter by chapter, even in the places the story don't follow a linear fashion. But there are exceptions. If a later scene presents itself, I will write it down and keep it until I get to that point in the story. Sometimes they will change, and sometimes they help me figure out a plot-point that have been unclear to me earlier. Or helps me figure out what 'really' happened.

I also, especially for my second book in the series, write stuff I am not going to use in the story itself. Not just research, but actual scenes. I think I have some 7-10 000 words worth of material that is not going to be used, or that are going to be totally rewritten for the story itself. All are things that happens, but they are background I needed to figure out, not things needed to be told for the telling of the story. I just find it easier to 'see' what happens when I put it into words on a page

10/3/2012 #9

So, I began writing the snippet of a scene I had in my head, which probably is located somewhere towards the end of the 4th or 5th chapter. In doing so, it prompted ideas to flow for the scenes prior to it. It's almost like writing backwards to go forwards, Quentin Tarrantino style. I wouldn't publish it that way. It's more like creating pieces of a puzzle and fitting them together to create a complete picture.

Like I said, it's a new concept to me as I usually write in a linear fashion (meaning one scene builds on the next regardless of flashback insertions) . There was only one exception and that was when I built an entire story on one scene that popped in my head (although the particular scene didn't come until much later in the story- chapter 24, I think). That was for fanfiction, so the characters were already there.

I love when the words just flow!

10/3/2012 #10
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