Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Starting at the Best Part

by Sariah S. Wilson

I think the way that people write is such a personal thing. Stephanie recently discussed the way that she writes. I've actually tried to write that way. I've heard so many authors say that it's much more organic, that they don't know the story until they've written it, things like that. I have had plot twists occur to me that I didn't start out with and I do like when the story suddenly presents a surprise I hadn't ever considered.

But I just can't do it. I have to go back. I have to rewrite what I've already written, get it perfect, before I move on. I wish I wasn't like that. It makes it much easier in the end, but I think it takes me longer to get to the end than it does other writers.

I also have to write chronologically. I haven't tried to write any other way, which is the point of this particular blog. I read once that when Stephenie Meyer started "Twilight" she wrote her favorite parts first and then tied them all together.

I'm considering doing that. I often get flashes of scenes where I write down the dialogue by hand and then when I organize the story before I begin writing, I insert that brainstorming into the appropriate upcoming chapter (and I can't tell you how much I love coming to a chapter where I have pages and pages of dialogue all ready to go. It practically writes itself).

But I wonder if I write the best parts first, the scenes I'm most excited about, if that will take away the joy of writing the entire book. Part of the reason you get through a necessary chapter or scene is because you know that after a few more pages THAT scene is coming, the one you've been dying to write since you first thought of the book. For me, it's sort of like a small reward for putting in the time it took to get to that point. Sort of like working out and rewarding yourself with Graeter's ice cream.

Or will it be the opposite? Will I be so excited by writing the scenes I desperately want to write first that I will be thrilled to write the bridges that connect them?

I've also wondered if it will make the book seem disjointed and not flow as easily because of the stop/start nature.

Have you ever started a novel by writing out the best scenes first? What was your experience with it?

And for our contest...Rebecca Talley is our winner! Rebecca, I got your email from your Blogger ID and I'll be sending you an email to get your pick. Congratulations, and thanks to everyone for entering!


At 4/19/2008 8:52 PM, Blogger Traci Hunter Abramson said...

I remember sitting at a book signing at my local library and a young woman asked what the best way is to write a novel. The author sitting beside me fielded the question and insisted that the way she writes (doing a rough draft as fast as possible) is the only way to go. I cringed at her words of wisdom, not because I don't sometimes write in a similar manner, but because she was undermining this unpublished author's natural writing style.

This blog reminds me how different we all are as authors, not only in what we write, but also in how we enjoy that journey of going from page one to our conclusions. No matter how you get there Sariah, I love your books!

At 4/19/2008 10:54 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

When I've written nonfiction, I do the outline and go from start to finish. When I'm done, the book is pretty much done, just needing edits for typos, etc.

But with fiction--it's a whole new ballgame. I have to follow the energy and write the burning scenes first.

At 4/20/2008 3:06 AM, Blogger C. L. Hanson said...

I'll definitely write down a favorite scene first. If it comes to me and I love it, why not write it down when it's fresh in my mind? Aside from that, I generally come up with a detailed outline and write most of a story in order.

I don't really like the idea of having to get through a less-interesting part to get to the good part. Write the part you want to be writing. If it means you have to go back and revise things you wrote earlier (because the story itself has evolved) that's not a big deal. In my latest novel, some of my favorite scenes were ones I added in various places to tie in some ideas that arose as the story went a little off course from the original outline.

At 4/20/2008 12:31 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Not only do different writers have different ways of writing, I don't even use the same method with every book. I've outlined in detail, made vague outlines, outlined a chapter then wrote the chapter then onto the next one, I've written the ending first, I've written particular scenes then filled in the rest, I've written whole books without any outlining, and I've written a synopsis first, then when the book was finished tossed the synopsis because it bore little resemblance to the book I actually wrote. To me different characters, different genres, and different stories each seem to invite me to write their stories a particular way. Perhaps I'm just disorganized, but I think that once a writer knows the basic elements that make a story, it doesn't really matter how the writer goes about creating the story or in what order the different elements are added to the mix. It's sort of like vacuuming the house; it doesn't matter which room we start with; it only matters that we get it all done. Some people are more comfortable following a set pattern and some are quickly bored with doing things the same way each time.

At 4/20/2008 8:23 PM, Blogger Crystal Liechty said...

I've written scenes that came to me first but I never end up using them. I definitely work best going from start to finish. Boring, I know, but there it is.

At 4/20/2008 10:30 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

You've got a couple of different things here--I'm like Stephanie in that I don't create really detailed outlines, but like you, if something major changes along the way, I have to go back and fix it--I can't leave a mess behind me to clean up later.

But I highly recommend writing those fun scenes first. For me, if I wait too long, the "fire" can go out before I get to them writing chronologically. I think they turn out more powerful when I write then while I'm still excited about them. Those scenes may change significantly by the time I bridge to them, but it's worth it to me, even if writing the connecting parts isn't quite as fun.

I love what Jennie said--how you can take a different approach with every book. Great vacuum analogy!

At 4/21/2008 9:44 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I write the scenes as I'm ready to write them. Then I tie them together. You take out the bumpiness when you do your beginning to end readthrough at the end.

At 4/22/2008 1:25 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

I don't outline, but I do write notes as I go. I also write from beginning to end. Often chapter one gets tweaked later, or I add in some scenes. By the time I get to the end, 4 months later, I'm always a little surprised at what's happened along the way (since I can't always remember). There was one book that I did outline every single chapter. But after writing it and reading it, I ended up changing the entire end and adding 200 pages. So maybe I shouldn't have outlined? I don't know. One thing unique about my process is that sometimes characters will come in "late" and I'll have to go back and add them in throughout the entire book. My Abinadi book was like that. I knew I had to add Helam, but I didn't know who I wanted him to be (relationship to other characters) until I was almost done with the book. So I had to go back through the entire book and add in his story and character.


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