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Pro Am Tip #38

August 20, 2018



Are you dapper? A slob? A hipster? A jock? A goth? Emo? Shab-chic?

What’s your style?


How about writing? Are you a plotter? A pantser? Do you write your favorite scenes first? Last? Do you love description or dialogue?


There’s no right or wrong answer. The only way to write wrong is to not write.


Here’s some insight you never asked for and couldn’t care less about:

I started and abandoned a dozen novels before I finished my first one, Magician. Were they bad novels? (Well, yes, because they were never finished.)  Amteurish, sure. Clumsy, yeah. But bad? No. So why did I abandon them?

It took me years to figure it out myself.


Stephen King recommends working on one project at a time and getting through it within three months, or else you risk the story becoming stale. The characters die in your mind. The connections fade. You lose the thread.

I feel similar, but I’m able to keep projects alive for years because (I suspect it’s because I’m a little crazy) I don’t have that fade.


So why did those books collapse in on themselves?


I finally figured it out about seven years ago.


I skipped around.


I wrote the clearest scenes first, the ones I was excited to write. I wrote the ones I could see clearest in my mind. The ones that were the most fun. In a few cases, I wrote the ending.


And they all died.


Turns out I have this odd quirk that I’ve never found anywhere else in other author’s list of oddities: I have to write linearly.


I have to start at the beginning, write until I get to The End, and never skip around.


That isn’t to say I don’t write flashbacks, or skip around in time. Not at all. But I have to do it in order, if that makes sense. I have to start at the first word, and write them in order until I get to the last one. Otherwise the whole thing just… dries up. It fades. All those books I started in which I wrote various scenes out of order just stopped living.


And the ones I wrote the endings for?