Thursday, July 25, 2013

Non-Linear Writing

As those of you who read this previous post know, I got the program Scrivener for graduation, which helped me to plan out my next big project; a novel based on my well-received short story.

Well I'm here to tell you, firstly, that the writing is going well! I'm taking this project very seriously, as I've not only been having a lot of fun with it, but I honestly think it might go somewhere (and certain friends of mine have told me the same). Secondly, and mainly, I'm here to tell you how the writing process of this story is very different than any story I've written before, and why that's a good thing.

Thanks to the aforementioned Scrivener program, I've got a rough layout of each chapter of the novel (in the form of digital note cards with brief summaries of that scene or chapter written on them), and the great thing about the program is that it treats the digital note cards as individual text documents. That means I can see my story laid out as note cards, easily find a chapter or scene that I want to write, click on it, and begin writing that chapter or scene. I can rearrange the note cards however I want and their content moves with them, so that when I'm all done, the program will save or print the whole story entirely in the order I've chosen.

When I wrote all of my other stories (including my first few attempts at a novel), I was using Microsoft Word, which doesn't really have any good organizational features, and I hadn't been introduced to (or just hadn't seriously considered) drafting out an outline of my story or using real notecards for organizing my thoughts. I wrote all of my stories the same way a person would read them; in order from beginning to end. I would then go back and edit it multiple times to tie scenes together better etc, but even that was a linear process.

This story is the first time that I've been able to write whichever scene I feel most prepared or interested in writing, regardless of where it takes place in the larger narrative. I once had an idea for a scene while driving, and instead of having to commit the idea to memory or write a note for later writing, I had the luxury of being able to go home and write out that entire scene from beginning to end while it was fresh and exciting in my mind. I've talked to writers who've always written their novels like this, so to them it may not seem like a big deal, but for me it's huge.

I honestly think that learning this new writing process could save the novel from being put on the backburner, as it means that if I come to a scene that I'm not sure about writing yet, I can put it aside and work on another. I've embraced the non-linear process so much that I've been writing in Scrivener, in Google Docs/Drive, and on a small legal pad depending on where I am or what I have access to. Each medium may have a completely different part of the novel than any other at any given time, but in the end I'll be able to put them all together in one place very easily.
It's so weird, but so cool.

In other news, I've been regretting not having my stories accessible on this blog for free, so maybe I'll get around to that soon.

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