Are There Methods in the Madness of Writing?


My favorite writing accessories: coffee and moleskine

I’ve been in a business/management environment for the better part of a decade and I can’t help but think in terms of following best practices, finding strengths and opportunities, and creating action plans to leverage found strengths against any opportunities (aka, areas of weakness, but no one likes to say “weakness”). I do this unconsciously, and constantly analyze and re-analyze various scenarios in order to arrive at the results I want, hopefully becoming more efficient, more effective with each project.

I’ve been thinking recently about how to finish my story in the most effective manner possible. Of course, I am familiar with the stayinyourseatandtype writing method, and the don’tlookatbrightandshinyfacebooktwitteryoutube avoidance techniques. Those address the problems of discipline, work ethic and focus: all very important, but not necessarily what I’m thinking about at the moment. It’s more like I want to know best practices, methods and techniques that other writers have employed to get them from one scene to another, eventually stringing all the pretties together into a finished story.

I’ve mentioned before that I have completed my plot outline of the major points of the novel. So, here I am plodding along, filling in the blanks between the points of that plot outline. But, I have been wondering recently: should I keep writing straight through the story as it is laid out chronologically (per my plot outline), or would it be more effective (or at least equally effective?) to write out some of those “fun” scenes, those major plot points, and then write in the transition scenes later on?

I’ve read that “writing to” something helps to iron out what those little, in-between scenes need to be, especially important if I need to hide clues or throw red herrings in along the way (though I’m not to that point in the story yet). I know for me, I had a glimpse of another chapter of my character’s life (basically the beginning of a potential other book, though I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, so I’ve chosen to call it “chapter”), and it looked like so much fun, that it helped me to outline and plot the novel toward that point. Plus, it just made sense to see how the BIG picture ends.

But, I still have a nagging little voice in my head that tells me if I touch those big scenes first, then I will lose the motivation/fire/passion to write the rest of the scenes. I know it’s silly, and I’ve come a long way from that mindset, but it’s still there.

cute cuddly with the potential for scary...yup, that's my muse

I know there’s no right way to go about this per se, and that the best method is the one that keeps me writing. So, let’s just call this inquiry my overwhelming, insatiable need to know things, and you get to help me learn more about the creative process. What method do you use in your madness, and why do you like it? The jittery, caffeine addicted gremlin that is my muse would like to know.


4 thoughts on “Are There Methods in the Madness of Writing?

  1. Carol Ann Hoel says:

    I am doing final revisions on my first novel and I think it’s good, but who knows for sure until it is critiqued. I had a story in my mind when I started and I just wrote toward the goal. I kept moving. Along the way character development, plot, and structured happened, and revision improved it all. I think writing a favorite scene that begs to jump out of your mind onto paper should be written. It’s dwelling on your mind and may interfere with your progress more than not writing it. At any time along the way you may revise it or discard it, so why not let it out before your muse throws a tantrum?

    • liza says:

      Well, my muse is more fickle than dramatic: she will just leave if she doesn’t get attention. ^_^
      I’ve been getting a dual muse view, recently…the female voice gives me the spontaneity and rush and gogogo! in my head…she’s the fickle one. But recently, there’s a male voice popping up more, and he’s very steady and consistent. He doesn’t really tell me anything, but he shows me a lot.
      Thank you for sharing…I’m going to write the next fun scene up from where I am, and back track from there. And you’re right: writing is in the rewriting, and there’s no need to dwell, I just need to keep moving.

  2. Alannah says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with writing the “fun” scenes first. A book I have so far found invaluable in helping me shape things has been “Story” by Robert McKee. It is written for film in mind, however, the principles can be applied to novel writing. I am finding this approach of “dissecting” a novel in parts, is really helping me see things more clearly.
    Originally, I just sat down and wrote, but the mess I ended up with was too chaotic to be called a novel. I will outline from now on.

    • liza says:

      Ooh, that’s right! I remember seeing that book on your blog! I meant to put it on my “get-at-the-library” list…thank you for sharing!
      I’m writing the next fun scene today; I figure little leaps will still keep me engaged in the story overall 😉

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