Posted in Writing

The Write Order: Should You Skip the Boring Chapters?

Just the other day, Moss asked a question in the Wayrift comments:

Quick question Aywren: When you wrote your books, did you write the chapters out of order or did you just write them back to back. ‘Cause I’m having a little trouble writing because some parts are really vivid in my mind but others are kind of vague.

While I responded to this question in the comments there, I felt that this could use a longer blog post, especially looking into the pros and cons of linear and non-linear chapter writing. In this section, I’m going to talk about skipping around in your writing.

Bouncing Around

bouncearound
Why bouncing around is good… and bad

So you’re writing a story and you suddenly find yourself faced with the daunting task of wading through what feels like the most boring set of chapters ever. Just on the other side of this scene, you know exactly what’s going to happen. And man, is it going to be good! If only you could skip the boring parts and get to what’s most inspiring to write!

 

Pro: Getting it Done 

Some writers encourage you to skip to the best parts, especially if you’re facing a no-write situation where you’re just so stuck that you’re not making progress. After all, it’s better to write something than nothing, right?

Pro: Forward Momentum and Inspiration

When you’re writing the parts you enjoy, it builds momentum and maintains a level of inspiration. It keeps you working, and may provide the boost you need to return and tackle the less interesting parts of the story.

Pro: You Could Learn Something

It’s those pivotal moments when your characters step up and show you who they really are. You could learn something about your characters that will make returning to previous chapters and building foreshadowing more fun and interesting!

Con: Breaking Continuity 

This is a big one. When you start bouncing around your plot, it’s much harder to ensure everything flows and makes sense. If you’ve written chapter 10 and chapter 16 and chapter 24… well, you better make sure that all the chapters in between are consistent in both plot and character. This may be all the more difficult if your characters have moments of change during the big events.

Con: Missing Out on the Journey

Sometimes the “boring” chapters are the ones that push you to delve deep into your world and characters, especially since you’re looking for something to keep the story going. This can lead to unexpected discoveries, which you may miss if you’re so focused on writing to fill the holes between the more important events of the story.

 Con: Oh, Crap. Rewrite. 

So you’re filling in those chapters between the important event chapters and you’re suddenly hit with this ***GREAT IDEA*** from nowhere. It happens. But this great idea will change the way the important events play out. Oh, crap. Now you have to go back and totally rewrite parts of those big event chapters to make sure everything meshes together. See where I’m going?

What do you do when you’re faced with a writing block? Have you ever skipped right to the good parts? How did that work for you?

 

Author:

I'm a technical writer by day, gaming gal by night. I have a wide array of gaming interests, though I most often blog about MMOs, RPGs, and Nintendo fanstuffs. Like what you just read? Check out my Webcomic and Fantasy Fiction projects! https://aywren.com/fantasy-fiction-webcomics/

4 thoughts on “The Write Order: Should You Skip the Boring Chapters?

  1. Personally, I’m a fan of linear writing. It works well for me, and I can normally trudge through the “boring” parts. If I really get stucked though, I will occasionally skip to a future chapter.

    I did it a few times in NaNo in the last three years, working on Vanishing Promise. I ended up getting stuck hard in the first year, went a wrote a scene that would happen later in the book, and got hit by the inspiration to return to the previous chapters.

    That said, I ended up cutting most of that scene this year when I got to it, story wise, but some parts were salvaged and included in the chapter. It ended up becoming a powerful bonding moment between two of my main characters.

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    1. Thanks for the sharing a great example. I’m also a fan of linear writing, but it seems like it’s good to keep your options open — just in case!

      I think flexibility is a key to the creativity behind writing. The moment you start thinking that your first draft is your last is when things start getting a lot more difficult, IMHO. I’ve learned after editing Dreigiau (several times over) that you have to be ready at any moment to throw out full chapters if it’s required.

      It’s always sad to do, but sometimes needed to make things better as a whole.

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      1. I have this problem quite a bit, actually. When I get down to it, I really just have scenes planned out, and then I have to figure out how the scenes connect, and that often ends up boring. There’s a lot I will rewrite if/when I get around to it…

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  2. I’ve been having this problem myself with my story. It’s my first book and I’m facing a huge writing block. I’m stuck on the second chapter and just can’t figure how to lead the scene. I know exactly how the third and fourth chapter should cause it’s where the “story” starts. So, I might as well skip it and see how it goes.. 🙂

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