#ROW80 Update: Write the good parts first?

So yay me. Basically I have two goals right now:

  1. Write every weekday
  2. Write 1k+ per session
  • Monday: 1193
  • Tuesday: 4938

Yeah, I typed that right. OMG, I was exhausted. It’s been such a struggle to make myself sit down and put any words on the page. There was a lot of giving up. But yesterday was the 5th weekday in a row that I was making myself sit down in the coffee shop to get something done, so maybe I’m getting warmed up.

One thing about yesterday, though, is that I skipped what I was supposed to write– Raine and Tim having a bit of a fight in front of pretty much everybody. When I sat down, I still didn’t know how that was going to go, so I decided to move on to the next thing. And the next thing was the first big reveal of our villainous element for this book. So it’s a big deal and something I’ve been kind of primed to write for at least a month (when I finally figured out how I wanted to do it). It was something I actually wanted to write, which makes a big difference.

I was soooo tired at the end of it, though. 1k-2k is usually pretty comfortable for me. The last week of writing a book I’ll have days of 5k-8k because I so desperately want to be done with it and I can see just what’s going to happen, but by that time I’ve built up some muscle. But yesterday, by the time I started to wind down to end the chapter, it felt like my brain had melted and was leaking out of my ears. So, really need to get back in shape.

Wouldn’t it be cool to write 5k per day? Write a book in a month. Not that I could put out 12 books a year, but dang, 2 would be nice, wouldn’t it?

One thing that I started doing when I started writing with Kait: working sequentially without skipping. Before that, I think I used to do a lot more jumping around and writing on inspiration–though it’s been several years now and it’s hard to remember.

Last year I was having a lot of trouble getting going on CURFEW. The front end felt really off, much like the front of end of SIEGE does. By the time I got to the middle of CURFEW, where I was writing the scenes that made me want to write the book in the first place, I decided to stop, go back and rework the front.

I know there are different schools of thought on this. I was talking to AM (do you follow @AMhairiSimpson? She’s awesome.) about this the other day. “They” always say you shouldn’t go back and continuously rework the front end of a book, never getting anywhere on the rest of it. And I totally get why that is. It’s something I’ve had to break myself of. On the other hand, it is DAMN HARD to keep moving forward when you feel like you’ve got this big mess hanging over your head that you have to clean up later. Especially when it’s a case of feeling like you have to work through how to make it RIGHT before you can move forward without digging yourself deeper into total shite.

For HUSH MONEY, I just pushed my way through, skipped very little, refused to go back rework what was already there. And that worked. But that book–that book was written by fairies. I still don’t know how that came together as fast and as well as it did.

***Going to talk about plot here. Potentially spoilery***

For CURFEW, I had to go back and fix the front end before I could really move on. There were a few scenes I pulled out and rewrote, really changing the mood. Like that fight Joss had with her dad–that needed to be angrier, and end angrier than it had when I first did it, which resulted in Joss making a different choice and me having to do minor plot fixes thereafter. I already realized I needed to do a better job setting that up, went back and made big changes to the previous scene with Joss and Gene. And, after I did that, the whole Joss/Gene plotline worked a lot better and was easier.

I went back and changed Vivian’s role in the story. Pulling her in tighter to the plot, and that changed the story itself, for the better.

I needed to go back and fix a Groundhog Day problem. It was lame to have too much talking stuff going on before school on different days. I needed to do something else in school. I had this idea I was going to send Joss to the nurse’s office and that’s where she’d run into Bella because the point was to get out that idea of why kids were willing to follow Marco, and why Joss might need to think about stepping up. Having just made decisions to change Vivian, I realized that I could introduce her here, which would bring her in even closer to the beginning, and also reintroduce Dobbs, and getting the cast introduced early on is often a good thing. Suddenly my Groundhog Day of bleh was a lot different and more interesting. It worked a lot harder.


Whew. That damn book (in fact, possibly we’ll just start calling it DAMN BOOK instead of CURFEW, not to be confused with SIEGE which we’ll call DAMN BOOK2) was still hard all the way through, for a lot of reasons, but I felt SO much better about it after that.

So all I’m saying is that sometimes it’s not good to ignore that feeling of offness because a good fix can really change things and make the later stuff more interesting.

Plus, when you FEEL like you’re facing a huge rewrite due to the piles of stinky shite you’ve left behind, it’s hard to be motivated to keep going.

I mean, at some point, you get to be the grown up and you get to judge whether you’re doing a partial rewrite because you really need it, or because it’s perfectionist procrastination that’s keeping you from moving forward. I mean, sometimes “they” are right, but they’re not the boss of you and sometimes those rules just don’t apply to you.

Anyway, I know this is getting long, but this brings me to SIEGE and the notion of skipping ahead. In a way, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to skip ahead because you miss some of the things your subconscious develops for you by working sequentially. But then, as I have clearly shown (okay, it was clear to me), sometimes my subconscious it a bit slow to work things out. And maybe it would work out more stuff if I let it go ahead and say okay, THESE are the points we are definitely making. Now you go figure out the best way to get from point to point while I go wash these dishes, kthxbye.

But then, what if I wrote all my favorite parts first and then I had nothing to look forward to and the rest of the book was just total drudgery?

So, does anyone do this? Skip around and write all the high points first, then go back and fill in? Does it work for you? Did you try it with horrifying, project-killer results?

Best wishes to the ROW80 crew.


Filed under writing

10 responses to “#ROW80 Update: Write the good parts first?

  1. Thankfully, while I went back fully prepared to rewrite the entire first act of Night Shift, I realised quite quickly that there was nothing wrong with the front end of the book. It was literally one scene which had thrown me out and it was right after I wrote that scene that I thought, this has all gone wrong, I need to FIX it. Giving in to that need was the best thing I could have done because it reaffirmed my faith in the rest of what had written (yes, it needed editing but not wholesale destruction) and also it reminded me that even a dark book needn’t be doom and gloom all the time. A release of tension is good in places. Admittedly, most of this got worked out in a writerly chat with another author friend, but it got worked out. When you get that overwhelming feeling that something needs fixing, it bears investigating, if only so you can then discover that, no, really, it’s fine and can wait for edits when you’ve written the rest of the book.

    I did have this crazy idea of editing each act separately. Like, writing one and then editing it, and then writing the next one and editing that. Yeah, I dropped that pretty quick. Thank god.

    • I plot that way. I know the things that need to happen in the story, but I often don’t know how they’re going to come across or how I’m going to make it happen. So I leave it blank until I get to that act, and then I make a better scene list and fill in some of the holes. When I go back and edit, I either work by scene or by chapter, depending on what kind of a mess it is. Basically I Pink Hammer it the same way I do other people’s stuff, except that my end of scene/chapter comments are more obnoxious.

  2. I wrote out of order in my first book, and it was so difficult for me to pull everything together later. But that is how my first novel came to me. Ha! I’m a plotter now, hands down. When a scene just will not come to me, I go and read. Weird, maybe, but that’s what works for me.

    Amazing word count this week! Wow! And yes…two novels a year would be fantastic! Here’s to reaching our goals this round!

  3. authormarieandrews

    Wow – impressive word count 🙂 Excellent job! You’re well on your way to hitting those goals.

    I agree on not polishing those first three chapters to death – I’ve done that and lost interest in a WIP to the point that I never finished. Much too stifling.

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Juliana Haygert

    I always write in order. I’m too afraid I’ll forget an important details if I skip around 😉
    Great word counts! Keep at it 😉

  5. I’ve always wanted to write a book out of order. The only time I tried it was when I was maybe thirteen or fourteen (and I didn’t finish a book until I was 23, so you know that was doomed from the outset). I was such a kid, and very enamored with Orson Scott Card. I think parts of that book were like, literally copied from Ender’s Game. Ah, plagiarism and the teenager. 🙂

    Anyway, sometime I’m really going to try it, because it sounds super fun.

    But I guess I do like writing in order, because I feel like I’m telling myself the story. If I feel like skipping parts, I usually figure they’re not that good, and probably shouldn’t be in the book anyway. I’ll narrate over them or cut them completely. My feeling is that if I’m not riveted to what I’m writing–if I’m not entertaining myself–I’m not going to entertain anyone.

  6. Wow! 4900 words in a day. No wonder you were tired. Good job though. I done it both ways – writing sequentially on one project, then out of order on another. One book I had a scene in mind which was the middle of the story and worked my way back until I found my beginning. Weird way to write. I was just reading in a book by James Scott Bell who suggests at the 20k point, go back review and make sure your story is going in the direction you want it before continuing on. Makes a lot of sense.

    Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and write the scenes that are on your mind. Sounds like you are doing great! Happy writing!

  7. Nick

    Honestly i write a lot although I have never tried to publish my novels, however i often find the best way is to write sequentially but keep avid notes on where and how you want to move the story along. I usually type out my book but have a notebook to scribble notes paragraphs or phrases to later add to my story. It works really well for me. When I get stuck and I’m not sure exactly how to move forward I read! It’s fun and gets your mind off of your stresses. The story you read might even spark your creative side!

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