A few weeks ago, I shared a couple of brainstorming techniques that help me when I reach a dead end while writing. A few other things that help me is to take a walk to refresh my mind or even putting aside my project for a day or two. Most often I come back from these breaks with a fresh perspective.
Today I’m going to share another technique that I sometimes use. True plotters and those who outline will probably cringe when they read this. I’m a planster, which means I create a basic plot that allows room for the story to develop itself as I write. I admit the technique I’m about to share isn’t for everyone, but it works for me.
I write out of order.
What? No way! You’re crazy.
Before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, consider this scenario: I’m in the middle of writing when it comes time to write a scene where my main character, whom I’ll refer to as Character A, meets the villain, Character B, for the first time. The MC doesn’t yet know or even suspect that Character B is the antagonist. This part is essential to the plot of the story and serves as a catalyst for future action.
Knowing the importance of this meeting, I need to get it right. I want to drop a few breadcrumbs for my readers without giving away too much information. The scene must leave readers thinking that Character B, although a little strange, is one of the good guys.
I need a little time to think it through. How can I best pull this off? Do I stop writing? Use one of my brainstorming techniques? Take a break?
I could do any of those things, but there’s one problem. Another scene, a future event has come to mind. I can’t let it go. It’s important that I don’t forget it. The need to get the words out of my head and into the computer is strong.
So, I write the scene that occurs later. Out of order. Then, I’ll come back and fix the problem with Character A meeting Character B.
You might ask how I keep things straight. It’s easy with Scrivener. With each new project, I create a folder titled “Future Scenes.” Within this folder, I create separate documents for each scene, just as I would if writing in order (I often have as many as five or six future events.) I give each section a title that helps me to identify them quickly.
When I reach the point of the book where it’s time to incorporate a scene into a chapter, I simply move it into the folder for that chapter.
If you use Word or some other type of word processing program, writing out of order may present more of a challenge. In that case, I would create separate documents for each scene, then copy and paste at the appropriate place in the manuscript.
A few words of advice. Don’t stray too far from your manuscript’s plot and try to write in order as much as possible. Make sure that each future scene you write fits within the story idea. Otherwise, you could end up with a convoluted mess.