Walk the Line or Dance Around?

by Rachel Rump

For many writers the challenge of writing for a novel comes not from what the story should be about but how in the world they are going to write it. Every writer has a technique. Some write in a linear fashion while others write whatever comes to them and only put the story together later. 

Unable to decide how to write my novel, I decided to try both techniques and see which one worked best for me. I worked on two novel pieces during the time of my Advanced Fiction Class. One was written in linear fashion (we shall call it Z) and the other was written in chucks of scenes as they came to me (this shall be known as S). Now that the semester has ended I am able to look back and evaluate which technique is best for the way I write.  

For my Z novel, I wrote in a straight fashion of how things were presented on my storyboard. I found that this took some time because I was already thinking further ahead to the climax or ending of the story and found that a couple parts were difficult to make it through before I got to a part where the words flowed. But I also found it easy to keep track of where I was in the story because I followed my storyboard and the story was put together with all parts included. I am roughly at the halfway point with a few revisions still needed but that will be addressed at a later time because my story must continue. I must continue to “walk the line”. 

Since I seem to always be all over the place I decided that I would try writing whatever scene came to mind for my second novel S. For this one, whenever I had an idea no matter how long or short it was I would write it down and save them all in a word document. I tried not to go back and revise these parts and just made sure to keep writing everything I thought about with the story. Looking back over all the word documents that I had written I noticed that many of them seem to overlap and describe a scene more than once. I have tried putting what pieces I have together but I find that there are many holes in between scenes. At this point I seem to only have a third of the novel down.  Luckily it was all on computer or it would have been a mess of paper.

A constant theme throughout these two novels? I have written a lot of words. Given that one story is more progressed than the other doesn’t mean this is the only way that I will ever write. I feel that linear is easier to do because I can see the novel come together, but I also liked just writing what came to me. It helped take all the scenes out of my head and put them on paper so that I could find where they fit into my story. I encourage anyone to try out these techniques just to see if maybe one of them fits better than the other.

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One Comment on “Walk the Line or Dance Around?”

  1. Lauren Burch says:

    You've got guts, taking on two novel projects in one semester!I'm glad that you decided to try the different approaches. I've often toyed around with the idea of writing in out of sequence chunks, but it's not something I've ever tried for fear of it being an incomprehensible mess. It's heartening to hear that you accomplished a good deal on either project. Do you think that the plots you chose for Z and S may have affected how well they worked as linear or sporadic?


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