My wife and I got some time alone yesterday for the first time in forever, and our conversation started like this:
Wife: “Why the fuck are we in Delaware?”
Me: “Kids, remember?”
You see, the kids are on vaca so we met my parents halfway to North Carolina yesterday to make the drop. Kids head for the beach, Plourde unit heads back to CT to work on the house. Damn, the kids always get the better end of the stick! Seems like us parents are always falling towards the sharpened end (hence my wife’s eloquent question at 7:30pm last night).
Like weekend roommates, we caught up on everything going on and she asked me about Babylon. What, you want a Babylon update too? Well, until I see a ring on this finger you’ll get nothing and like it!
She asked me a question:
“Are you writing Babylon like Eden – beginning to end?”
I had to take a moment to process her inquiry. To me, there is no other way. I blurted “Of course” and then had to backtrack to explain. Because I love y’all, I guess I’ll share here as well. This don’t mean we’re anything more than casual fuck-buddies tho, and don’t you forget it! (where’s my ring, huh?)
While there is no “right” or “wrong” way to write fiction, I believe each writer should try their darndest to find what works best for them. Some people are quite rigid and write with a strict outline, at certain times of the day and with their desk facing the Holy Land (or Disneyland – wait, for some peeps those are synonymous). Other writers pour out a first draft as quickly as possible and then work on the revisions. Stephen King mentioned a writer (no, I’m too lazy to look it up) in his On Writing book who worked on a page at a time. Once that page was PERFECT, he would move on to the next one until he had a FINAL manuscript at the end. Some writers construct many scenes independently of each other and then bring them all together.
For me, I start at the beginning of my story and then work through to the end. Not only does this chronological style work for me on a personal level, but I believe the final product is a better story. Everything flows more naturally this way (for me) and I never find myself in the situation of having to connect two disparate dots. If I wrote out of order, I may feel the need to artificially connect those dots, and that’s where some writers lose me. Sometimes, it’s quite obvious they were stretching to connect two scenes or ideas and it makes for a jarring experience.
Examples? Well, nothing jumps right at me as I type this. But this all goes back to my recent blog posts on writing where I talk about this idea of “natural story flow.” Symptoms of hastily shackled together storylines can be recognized by incongruous character actions, head-scratching plot twists and sudden/forced changes of circumstances. Natural story progressions shouldn’t have these makeshift supports.
With Eden, I actually wrote one scene out of order. This scene involved a character I originally wanted in the story and I daresay the scene was pretty good. The character dialogue and interactions were spot-on and I got a rush while editing it for insertion to Eden. However, like the wrong puzzle piece, I just couldn’t turn it the right way to fit into the overall picture. The scene was months (years?) old and it didn’t flow with the progression of the story. I didn’t need the character anymore and each place I tried to stick the scene felt wrong. So, in the end, I cut the scene and it will never see the light of day (though the character is certainly in Babylon).
Could the scene still have been added? Sure! If I took the time, I would have been able to make it flow nicely along. But, and here’s the important point of all my rambling: I no longer wanted to add the scene/character. I had built 200 pages of story before that scene was due to arrive and when it came time to put it into place, the characters and action grew away from some of my original thoughts. So, just like they did Old Yeller, I took the scene out behind my shed and filled it full of buckshot. (no, I’m not that much of a sick bastard that I would look for that clip on Youtube to link here…)
Blah blah blah, Mr. Matt — I have my own style and I’ll write the way I damn well please!
Excellent! Please do! My only point is: find the method that works best for you and trust your process once you find your comfort with it. Everyone’s got their own roadmap to their storytelling, and trust your gut once you’ve blazed your path.