Tag Archives: linear writing

Linear Writing for Non-Linear People

Right now, as you’re reading this, I’m sitting in a waiting room working on The Killing Type. Right now, I’m typing this to the future, but you’ll be reading the past. Okay, this is starting to sound like an episode of Vsauce.

I’ve mentioned before that when I write a first draft, I build everything from the inside out, piecing together scenes without any regard for a timeline. Most of my friends and critique partners are structured outliners, so I don’t know how they deal with my throwing caution to the wind. I’m sure they’d fall over if they saw my drafts-in-progress. Or my notebooks.

That being said, I’m trying this rewrite from a different angle: writing it straight through and replacing what I no longer need. When I finished the draft the first time, I unwisely didn’t let it sit before starting on edits. So I’ve technically never reread it. Oops. Plus, when I did revise, I went backward.
I know! I know! I’m the extreme type of pantser. I’m mad!
I’m hoping a forced linear perspective does a couple of things:
  1. Let’s me see the narrative in order. Obvious.
  2. Let’s me see what isn’t working. I’m trying to make each chapter a reaction to the events in the last. Hopefully, I can speed up the action and make it cleaner.
  3. Help me hate linear writing less, especially when it’s time to edit and revise. At the very least, I’d like to be able to process it better.

Of course, this whole process is not without its pitfalls. I’ve gotten some great feedback from my CP, and I do feel positive about this new take, but rewriting is still difficult and painful. I’ve only gotten the first four chapters redone (out of, oh, the original twenty-five-ish), and there is a slight downside.

  1. I initially cut about 15k out of the original 80k. Boom. Gone. It was liberating, but a little sad.
  2. For every 5k I add (about a chapter and half), I delete the 2k of the original, which drops the word count again. Sure, I could (and probably should) open a fresh file, and this would take away the pain, but I like seeing the new replacing the old.
  3. I realize just how much the first draft sucked. Yes, I know all first-drafts suck and that’s why we keep revising until we die, but I realize how few things actually made sense and under-developed my characters were, especially Charlotte. This is bad because Charlotte is the main character.
  4. Like everything, it makes you question your choices. I still ask Kelly if she likes where the story is going, or if I’m even good at this writing thing. I have a folder of positive affirmations that I look at when I’m down. Also, a file of glittery skulls, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m hoping to have it finished (or with one or two chapters to go) by the time I leave for Disney (and the worst sunburn of my life) at the beginning of June. Doable? Yeah. Some scenes only need a point-of-view change. There are a few that won’t be changing at all. I try to remember that this manuscript hasn’t been slated as hopeless. I just need to dust it off a bit more.

Now where’s that rock tumbler I had as a kid?

I’m starting to think I should have some sort of clever sign-off. Maybe next week.


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