No, I didn’t suffer a stroke. Today, anyway. That’s just what some of my manuscripts look like, and I’m not certain if I need to do something about it or not.
When I was younger, I would scribble things as they occurred to me. A single sentence, a quick character sketch, sometimes a whole chapter. I wouldn’t worry about where it fit in, or how I’d get there; I just did it. It led to stacks of Keno tickets with all manner of fragments scribbled on their backs and then shoved in the pocket of a Trapper Keeper (and god, I feel old mentioning one of those things.) Point in fact, I still have that godawful thing. Felt leopard print. Velcro and little plastic D-Rings still intact, too. I’m a loser.
Later those notes would be scribbled into the word processor, where I would attempt to make something resembling sense out of them, shuffling the order around, trying to write the interconnecting points that got from Point X to Point B without breaking them too badly. It wasn’t the easiest exercise, but it was amusing, and sometimes had good results. Then, at some point, that machinery just turned off. It was too annoying to do it that way, especially when, in the heat of the moment, one of those interconnecting bits would directly contradict something else. It seemed simpler to just write in a straight (or semi-straight, since I am fond of flashbacks) line.
Of course, that has caused a lot of stalls in the machinery. I may have an amazing idea for a scene somewhere in the middle, but don’t start or work on it because I haven’t decided how they got to that point. Or that scene may be interesting only to me, only as motivation or backstory that would be disinteresting or boring to the reader who just wants to know what’s next. So the projects stagnate and rot and the really cool scene fades and I’m left with nothing. Sometimes.
Lately, I’ve forced myself to write those scenes anyway. While Ex Inferis sits in the corner, waiting for artwork and certain necessarily hardware to arrive and Insomniac Nightmares waits for its edits, the thing I’ve been pecking at lately has gone all over the place. I have what I believe is the start. I have some flashbacks that belong somewhere in the early middle. I have something that, if it’s not the last chapter, is at least damn close.
And you know what? It’s bloody fun. Unproductive (seemingly), but fun.
I wonder if that’s how Tarantino movies get made. He writes and shoots scenes as they occur to him, with little thought to the order they go in in the greater narrative… then just forgets to put them in the proper order. I’m looking at you, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill.
Now whether anything comes of Believe Me or if it’s just my bad attempt at sidestepping my creative and personal issues remains to be seen. But writing things out of order is at least letting me get something on the page, which I suppose is an accomplishment in and of itself.
You writers out there should give it a try; see if you find something useful in it. Write scenes out of order, then play connect the dots. Deliberately skip over parts and fill them in later with the things you learn from writing in later chapters. See what happens.
Can’t hurt, right?