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.
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?