On Writing: Feeling Disjointed

Today’s word count: 1,971 words

NANTUCKET total word count: 48,961

HARPER total word count: 5,435 words

I didn’t think I would write as much as I did today. I know it’s not quite my daily goal, but it’s pretty close. But when I sat down at the computer, I definitely didn’t feel like I had much to write. The words weren’t there. The movement in the next scene, which I normally do have in mind before I sit down, wasn’t there. Nothing much was there, really.

But sitting down to write everyday definitely grows on a person. It took me longer than normal to get the words down, but still, the words did come, eventually. I wonder, when I do the first re-read once it’s all completed, whether I’ll be able to pinpoint these words again, point to them and say, “ah, I wrote this that night I was feeling a little off”?

After my experience re-reading what I had written in November months later, I suspect I won’t be able to tell.

Writing Chronologically

I’m feeling a little disjointed when it comes to NANTUCKET. I’m not even sure if “disjointed” is the word I’m looking for.

I’m writing NANTUCKET using a program called Liquid Story Binder. One of the great things about it is that it has a planner mode that lets you throw in the names of scenes. You then write each scene by attaching a chapter to it. Doing it this way, it’s easy to move scenes around, and the beauty of it is that the chapter attached to the scene moves with it. While I’m not working with an outline, I tend to think of a few scenes that are coming up at the beginning of each session, and add them to the planner as I go, so I always have a couple of scenes waiting for me to write.

NANTUCKET has a lot of characters, and the point of view shifts from scene to scene. With the lapse between last November and last month when I picked up the writing again, things have gotten quite confusing. I have characters lurking around that require development in their own scenes during the earlier part of the book, but I haven’t gotten around to even setting those scenes down yet, much less writing them. At times I find myself concentrating too much on the story that my two main characters are telling, but my story relies on more than just their points of view.

When I started writing NANTUCKET again last month, I did go back and delete whole scenes and rewrite new ones. But I started at the earliest part, and always moved forward chronologically. Now it feels to me like I will have to take another good look at all the scenes I have, and insert scenes into various places as needed.

If I do this, though, I won’t be writing chronologically anymore. I’ve never written a story in any way but chronologically. Just thinking about it, I feel disjointed. A little uncomfortable.

Do you always write a story chronologically? Or do you find it easy to tackle whatever scene happens to come to you, regardless of when it takes place in the timeline of your novel? I guess my main worry is that I’ll lose that sense of flow and coherence that I associate with writing chronologically.

9 thoughts on “On Writing: Feeling Disjointed

  1. lewis harris

    I’ve written one crime thriller and five middle grade novels and I’ve never even come close to wavering from a chronological course…hmm…I’ve never thought about that before.

    Reply
  2. Rebecca

    I am going to have to check out Liquid Story Binder. It looks useful and creative. Is it user-friendly, easy to use? It seems to be worth the investment. You’re writing a lot compared to me! I need something to jumpstart me. Microsoft One Note is not cutting it, to put it mildly.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Monday Movie Meme: On Tuesday :) =-.

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  3. Cathryn

    Your daily word count is quite impressive! (I barely managed 688 today.)

    I usually write chronologically. Whole future scenes don’t tend to come to me, but I do sometimes get pieces of scenes that are further ahead. I just space down a bit and jot them down cryptically or very roughly, and then it’s in the right “place” when I get to it and ready to be fleshed out. But then I go back to the chronological flow.

    If scenes are coming to you, it’s probably a good idea to write them now despite the uncomfortable disjointed feeling. Like not being able to tell when you wrote something when writing wasn’t going “well” vs when it was, you might find the chronology working itself out. Let us know!
    .-= Cathryn´s last blog ..Do Over =-.

    Reply
  4. Ann-Kat

    I think you already know me well enough to know I don’t necessarily write chronologically per se. I tend to jump around quite a bit from scene to scene. For instance, in the project of the moment already has the ending complete, but is missing a huge chunk in the middle. LOL

    Belle, my advice would be to do what’s most comfortable to you. Sometimes I find that I’m not feeling a particular scene, or even that particular work, on a certain day so I set it aside and write what I do feel, whether that’s just a journal entry from a character’s point of view or some silly drivel. The goal is to write, right?

    As for Nantucket, why not consider layering it like you would a painting? (Depending on the painter) Painters tend to lay down their undercoat first, then gradually go back over it adding layers. So, lay the basics of the story, even if it just focuses on the two main characters, then go back and add the nuances necessary for the development of the other characters, and finally, finish up by tweaking the details and polishing–think of this as adding the highlights. 😀 Gosh, I hope that makes sense.

    On another note, one thing I’ve been using more and more with LSB is the builder within the planner. A builder allows me to break down a particular chapter into its individual scenes and events, then write them individually, and then automatically combine them into a full chapter. I originally started using it for short stories, but as I’m working on the third draft, I’m finding it to be a very useful feature indeed.
    .-= Ann-Kat´s last blog ..Teaser Tuesday: Blacklisted by Gena Showalter =-.

    Reply
  5. Memory

    I used to be a devout chronologist, (if that’s even anything), but these days I largely ignore my timeline while I’m working on my first draft. I find that I’m more motivated to write if I can work on whatever interests me most on a particular day. If that means jumping forward or stepping back a bit, I let myself do so.

    I do work chronologically with subsequent drafts, though, because that makes it easier for me to pay attention to flow and pacing. I’ll revise completed scenes if I need to incorporate something new that I’ve learned about the characters and their world, but I resist the urge to jump ahead during revisions.
    .-= Memory´s last blog ..96. The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, Twenty-First Annual Collection =-.

    Reply
  6. Belle Post author

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. Interesting that only one of you has worked in a non-chronological manner. I think in this case I will have to bite the bullet and just do it, because it’s affecting the scenes I’m writing right now – I keep thinking about how I haven’t written about that yet, and it just feels like I’m missing stuff.

    Rebecca, I use only a fraction of Liquid Story Binder’s capabilities. I got it, and then just learnt enough to actually sit down and start typing. Then Ann-Kat showed me how to use the Planner section, so I started doing that. But I know that there’s a lot more to it – I just haven’t had the time to check out all the features. The really nice thing about the program, though, is that you can set your writing goal for a session with just one click, and at the bottom of your screen you see your word count measured in real time. It’s quite nice to be able to know how much you’ve written without having to stop and click on something else to check first.

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  7. Pingback: On Writing: Writing Fast, Writing Slower - Ms. Bookish

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