Sunday, February 7, 2010

Madness, I tell you. Madness.

Every once in a while it's fun to showcase one of my writing quirks, and I can't think of anything else to blog about right now. That, and I'm in the middle of backing up my hard drive, so I can't open any of the files that would normally keep me occupied and prevent me from posting strange things in my blog.

So, here we are.

I've frequently mentioned here that I write out of sequence. Chapter 12, then chapter 4, then chapter 15, then part of chapter 20 while flitting back and forth to chapters 18 and 31. Now, I commented recently on Facebook that I not only write the book out of sequence, I write the chapters themselves out of sequence. Sometimes I even write paragraphs that's not uncommon at all for the first sentence of a paragraph to be the last sentence I actually write. I skip all over the place, writing bits and fragments of a scene until it eventually comes together as a coherent scene.

And for some reason, y'all think I'm crazy for doing this*.

So just for fun, here are two actual screenshots from chapter 3 of Cover Me when it was in its early stages (certain bits have been blurred out to keep from giving away significant pieces of the plot). The pictures are obviously too small to read, so you'll probably have to click to see them, and even then they'll be difficult to read, but I think you'll get the idea.
As I said, those are the earliest, skeletal stages of the scene. What you see in the pictures is probably 500 words. That passage, from beginning to end, is roughly 3,500 words now (the entire chapter is about 4,700 words).

Basically, I jump around the scene, writing images, dialogue, and narrative as they come to me. Wherever you see gaps between paragraphs, I've skipped ahead, intending to come back and fill it in. Sometimes it's a sentence or two to sew two paragraphs together, sometimes it's 1,000 words or more. Sometimes they get deleted. Two of the paragraphs in the images above have since been deleted. I'll even work on two or three chapters at a time. Like, all three files open, jumping back and forth between them, bouncing all over the place and filling stuff in.

I'm not exactly sure when I started doing this, nor am I sure why. It just sort of...happened. And it works. God only knows why, but it works.

So, there you have it. Another example of my writerly madness.

Why did I show this to you? Well, besides the fact that I was bored, these things amuse me, and all of that nonsense, there was actually a sensible reason for posting it. Specifically, a lot of people post on message boards asking "is it okay to do this?" "Is this the right/wrong way?" "Will this work?" I used to ask those questions all the time myself. The fear of somehow doing it wrong was crippling at times, as if I could never write anything worth reading if I didn't do it the right way. I read dozens of writing books, trying to figure out which method was The Right Way(tm).

Folks, it doesn't matter how you do it, only that you do it. If something gets the words on the page, gets the purpose of the scene accomplished, and gets the message conveyed to the reader...then it's the right way. If it prevents you from moving on to the next scene, hinders the completion of the book, or kills your enthusiasm to the point you just can't proceed...then it's the wrong way. It really is that simple.

Write in sequence. Write out of sequence. Write a chapter backwards. Outline. Don't outline. Write it all as one big document. Separate the chapters into individual files. Edit as you go. Don't edit as you go. Use Word. Use yWriter. Write the whole thing on your mother-in-law's bathroom mirror in lipstick using Egyptian hieroglyphics if you want to**. There is no wrong way to go about writing it as long as you are writing it.

I'm going to say it again in case anyone missed it:

There is no wrong way
to go about writing it
as long as
you are writing it.

Yes, it really is that simple.

HA! And you thought this was just going to be ridiculous blog about my silly writing habits. Or that it would contain random, gratuitous mancandy.

Please, folks. Give me some credit.

There's nothing random or gratuitous about Tim Kelleher.
* You're probably on to something, actually.
* * You might want to check with your mother-in-law on this one before you try might not be the wrong way to write, but it could be the wrong way to strengthen in-law relations.


  1. Clearly, your methods condemn you to a futile life of fail.

    Oh, wait, sorry. I meant "RITE MOAR NAO!!!"

    Also: Timmeh...*drool*

  2. You are crazy.

    Obviously, you will never get published.