Do you write 'linearly'?

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EMC
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Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by EMC » July 9th, 2010, 4:52 am

When I write, I tend to come up with an idea, and take it as far as I can. After that, it's a question of thinking up new scenes even if they're not chronologically what would happen next - generally because I don't know - and then I hope to high heaven I can slot them in somewhere at some point.
Any one else work like that?
EMC

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Heather B
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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by Heather B » July 9th, 2010, 5:04 am

I try to have as much of the events planned out in advance. That way I can just write. Occasionally, with one of my other series I will see a future scene, from another book, so perfectly that I just have to write it down. Other than that, the only extra scenes generally come when my characters demand it or when I need to add more detail in editing.

My best friend however, doesn't do a moment of planning. She sits down, starts writing and waits to see where that takes her. We've both tried each other's styles to no avail.
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polymath
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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by polymath » July 9th, 2010, 9:03 am

I like to start with a message. Unbidden, inspirations come from my everyday experiences. I nonconsciously, then consciously want to address the dilemmas I have with life. The message comes from what I want to say about what's going on in my life. My cosmos is not to my liking. I can't change it to what I like. In fiction, I can. So, okay, my writing attempts to change my real surroundings to suit my best interests. Social engineering reflecting society is one of fiction's public contributions. Persuasion not manipulation or dictation. From a message, I develop character types that fit, dilemmas, settings, ideas, and events, a rudimentary plot.

I start at the beginning. One facet openings do is introduce a scene when emotional equilibrium is first upset for a protagonist, and readers, when he or she becomes aware all is not right with their cosmos. Three hundred sixty-five days in a year, the one that's different is the story. Perhaps a little more influxing pressure is needed to set a protagonist in action and move the plot. Building tension means more pressure, perhaps over the course of hours or days or weeks. A first effort to address a dilemma assumes a seemingly easy solution predestined to fail. Maybe the opening scene day is different, but inciting forces started the previous week. Or a protagonist becomes aware of a pivotal moment later in a timeline.

Nonlinear timelines tend to open with a protagonist's first recognition of an insuperable dilemma occurring later in an external time sense, so they come first in a narrative timeline. Donna Tart's The Secret History, Charles Frazier's Thirteen Moons, E. Annie Proulx's The Shipping News. William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" timeline moves seamlessly front to back and back and forward and back and forward again.

Yeah, I write linearly, but don't stick to it if a story needs reorganization. I went to bed last night with a solid opening and a well sketched out plot through to the ending, but suspecting the opening wasn't quite right in the timeline. I woke up this morning still thinking about it. An answer came unbidden to mind that matches the narrative as planned better than the existing opening. Leads into the existing opening.

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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by dios4vida » July 9th, 2010, 10:00 am

EMC, I do the exact same thing. I'm writing along on the beginning of my new WIP and I think "ooh, I know how I want this scene in the middle of the book to go!" So I put in about five hard returns in my document and start writing that. Right now I'm 12,000 words into my newest WIP - about the first 8,000 are chronological, and the rest are sections scattered throughout the story. I even have the ending written. Now I just have to connect the dots!

When I first started writing I didn't do that, and I found two things: 1. I would get stuck on a particular section and not get any writing done for weeks until I figured out how to continue, and 2. when I'd finally get to a point I'd already figured out, chances were I'd forgotten how I'd done it in my head and what fell onto the paper was never as good. And we all know that when you aren't happy with your own writing, it just stifles everything.

I'm a much more happy and productive little writer doing it like this, personally. :)
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Quill
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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by Quill » July 9th, 2010, 10:28 am

I'm very linear. I write linear. I edit linear. Each draft starts at the beginning and goes through bite by bite, like munching hotdogs. If I get ideas for other parts, I jot them down where they belong but don't get involved there.

Otherwise I go crazy. I don't know where I am. I lose touch with the weight of the flow and the music of the words. The piece will be read linearly. It must flow that way. The tension must torque that way. The resolution must reveal that way. I have no other way to construct it and reconstruct it and keep continuity have it remain 'as a piece' but linearly.

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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by Down the well » July 9th, 2010, 10:34 am

Because I don't like to plan out the first two-thirds of a story I have to write linearly. I never know what I'm going to come up with so I can't project ahead and write a later scene -- even if I do see it in my head. I might take a few notes, but I have to wait until I get there in the story to write it. Cuz what if I blow that person up or something in chapter five?

I know of writers who write whatever scene pops into their head, but I honestly don't know how they integrate it all together in the end. That would be really hard for me to deal with. All those transitions to string it all together. I'd rather start at the beginning and plod my way to the end a page at a time.
Last edited by Down the well on July 9th, 2010, 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by Margo » July 9th, 2010, 10:55 am

I write linearly, but only after exhaustive planning, which is not linear for me. Occasionally, I will write a paragraph or a page out of sequence because it has suddenly taken shape in my head, and I have to write it down or I'll lose it. It will never occur to me the same way or with the same force again. (Yes, there are small aspects of my writing wherein I'm artsy and all mystical, too. Curses! Phzzzzzzzzz!)
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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by cheekychook » July 9th, 2010, 11:00 am

I don't even eat my hotdogs linearly. :)

Even though I write fiction, I go about it the same way that I go about reflecting on something I have actually experienced. If I'm thinking about a movie I have watched I might think about the climax, think about the ending, realize that there was some foreshadowing in the beginning....and go through it in my mind in a completely different order than I viewed it on the screen. Similarly, if I'm idly thinking about my own life I don't start at my childhood each time and rehash the whole thing, I think about whatever segment pops into my head. Sometimes while recalling something I've pondered a hundred times I'll have an epiphany that makes me change the way I look at it, or the way I look at what happens after it...regardless the thought occur in random order. That's how I write. I see the big picture, as if I'm reflecting on a memory, I write it in whatever order I decide to examine the details, and sometimes, while I'm writing it down I'll have an epiphany about the significance.

With hotdogs sometimes I just feel like eating both ends first. ;)
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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by EMC » July 9th, 2010, 11:03 am

http://storyfix.com/guest-post-pantsing ... he-pansies

I think I'm a 'plantser'.
:)

Now to expand on the previous question - if you plot are you tending to write thriller/action/plot driven novels, and if you pants do you tend to write character driven work. Or is that just me?

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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by Margo » July 9th, 2010, 11:10 am

EMC wrote:Now to expand on the previous question - if you plot are you tending to write thriller/action/plot driven novels, and if you pants do you tend to write character driven work. Or is that just me?
For me:
less planning=more action, less character development
more planning=more contained/controlled action, more character development

So it's just you. :) And a bunch of others, probably.
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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by Claudie » July 9th, 2010, 11:28 am

I plot out of order, and by the time I start the novel, I often have the first third planned in details, then a couple of scenes I want in the rest of the novel. Normally, I also know the ending. I'm about to start a new WIP, and for the first time, I don't know where this is going. (I'm scared!)

When it comes to writing, I do it in order. Sometimes I'm imagining scenes that would come later in the novel, but the chances I write something that'd change the scene, so I wait. Yes, I might lose a bit of the magic, but this is the first draft and most of what I write will disappear with edits.

[quote=EMC]Now to expand on the previous question - if you plot are you tending to write thriller/action/plot driven novels, and if you pants do you tend to write character driven work. Or is that just me?[/quote]

I'm always quite character driven, but when I pants, it's to the point where they're the only thing moving the plot forward. When I plan, I have a better idea of what in the surrounding world will push these characters around. They still do most of the driving, though, but I have a better balance with a little planning ahead.
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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by Down the well » July 9th, 2010, 12:23 pm

Margo wrote:Yes, there are small aspects of my writing wherein I'm artsy and all mystical, too. Curses! Phzzzzzzzzz!)
Ha! I knew it!

*wipes spit from Margo's raspberry out of eye*
EMC wrote:Now to expand on the previous question - if you plot are you tending to write thriller/action/plot driven novels, and if you pants do you tend to write character driven work. Or is that just me?
I'm not really sure. I was going to say my "organic" novel is heavy on plot, but now that I think about it, it is also strongly dependent on the two main characters and their relationship. Hmmm....can I have both?

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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by sbs_mjc1 » July 9th, 2010, 12:25 pm

Linear, linear, linear.
Both Mike and I are scientific types by training, and are obsessed with tight "cause and effect" relationships. We do both character sheets and extensive outlines.
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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by Margo » July 9th, 2010, 2:35 pm

Down the well wrote:*wipes spit from Margo's raspberry out of eye*
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polymath
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Re: Do you write 'linearly'?

Post by polymath » July 9th, 2010, 3:03 pm

Down the well wrote:I'm not really sure. I was going to say my "organic" novel is heavy on plot, but now that I think about it, it is also strongly dependent on the two main characters and their relationship. Hmmm....can I have both?
Plot not tasty enough on it's own? Add SPICE, setting, plot, idea, character, and event. Then there's contrasts and comparisons, another writing analog from culinary arts principles: contrasting and comparative texture, consistency, temperature, color, arrangement, aroma, and flavor. Adults only taste sweet, sour, bitter, and savory and combinations and permutations thereof, infinite possibilities but limited in scope compared to other influences. Visual, olfactory, and tactile appeals are more critical for gustatory delight than taste.
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