I’ve heard pros and cons to skipping around in a story. Some people say it’s easier to write straight from the beginning to the end: it makes more sense and you know exactly what information to include because you know what your character knows at each point in time.
Some people like to skip around totally randomly.
Honestly, writing around difficult scenes is my favorite thing to do.
Okay, I should be telling you to push through those slow, annoying scenes that no one likes to write! And I will, but not yet. First, get through everything you know now. You may end up with lots of notes and reminders to yourself here and there – I always do.
My poor, poor alpha readers. You’ll be getting lots of notes ha. (if want to help alpha read R+B, and haven’t signed up the form is still open for few more days week here!)
So why do I skip around? Here are a few reasons.
Ever get to that specific scene that just drowns you? You know you need to write it, but you’re honestly not sure where to start or you just don’t want to deal with every detail and character revelation you have to keep up with.
Skip it. For now. Instead of staring at a blank page and forcing out a few words every couple of minutes, skip it and write what you do know.
To me, it makes it easier to structure a story if you write all your important scenes first and write the filler later.
Find your major plot points and write those out first. Sometimes a couple of plot points will be the scenes you skip, but you’ll at least have a few important scenes out of the way. Plus, chances are, you’ll have the lead up so you just need to write that climax.
Every once in a while, I’ll see a picture on Pinterest or read a book that inspires some scene or quip of dialogue. Obviously you can do this even if you’re writing the story straight through, but it helps to write the entire inspired scene (or idea) in one sitting.
I have at least a dozen random scenes at the end of my document to fill in later. Anything from a quick exchange to a new side character idea to a dramatic death scene. It doesn’t have to be complete yet; it might just be an outline of a scene.
There are other ways to speed up your writing without jumping around. First, use the Elephant Rule.
Every time you come upon a word you can’t remember or know you want to improve, write elephant. Or coconut. Or polka dot. Just use a word you know won’t come up throughout the rest of your story. Later, search for the word (ctrl. f) and easily find all the places you need to revisit.
Another tip, add notes to yourself. I think most people do this already. At least I do, as I mentioned above. If you need to research something or rewrite some dialogue, add a note. It can be a comment on Google Docs or just add some caps or “//” to make your notes clear. Mine look like this:
//DID THEY EVEN HAVE MACHINES?//
*cheesy exchange between a couple of guy characters* //gag//
//probably cut later//
//ADD MORE HERE//
Later after the draft is mostly finished, go back and address all those helpful notes and do your research then.
It may seem like jumping around is the easy way out while writing a novel – who doesn’t want to skip those pesky boring scenes? Those difficult-to-write emotional scenes?
It isn’t the easy way out. Writing a novel is hard. Period. There are no tips that make it a walk in the park. This way simply makes the initial draft faster. BUT then. EDITING. REARRANGING. “DIFFICULT” SCENES. Once you’ve gone through and skipped all the scenes you weren’t so sure about, then you have to arrange your existing scenes in order and fill in the rest.
But. I will say that I actually enjoy this part. I get to rearrange and see what I have and usually there’s not tons to fill in. It does make it easier to write those scenes because I know once I’ve finished these “difficult” scenes, I’m done.
Yes, it’s faster. Yes, I may have to fill in all the harder scenes at once. Yes, I’ll have to rearrange a couple hundred pages. But once I’ve rearranged and added transitions – everything falls into place and it’s done!