Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Matter of Sequence

Recently I was at a writer's workshop and one of the group was fidgeting.  When asked what was troubling her, she admitted that she thought writing was too hard and she was going to give it up. Now this is a mixed group with a lot of different interests and talents. Several of us were surprised by her comment. I asked her to elaborate.

"I want to write a memoirs, because I've lived in so many different places, met so many interesting people and have had some great experiences. But I can't write it in order. It's just too crazy."

With a little prodding, she admitted that she was trying to write it as things occurred, telling the story as it happened. She got a little disgusted with me when I shook my head and laughed.

"You have to figure out what method works for you. Some writers use an outline or a series of notes and plot out each chapter, each scene, before they begin writing. I can't do that.  I write the scenes that capture my attention, then go back and put them into some semblance of order later."

She admitted to having some scenes that were very memorable, very powerful, that she couldn't wait to write, But those happened later in life. She didn't think it was proper to write those before she worked up to them.

"It's a matter of sequence. Write the scenes that you can't wait to get down. You can always go back later and rearrange them. The important thing is to keep writing," I said.

People use whatever method works for them. I do the majority of my writing on a computer. Sometimes if I'm not near it and inspiration strikes, I'll jot down the idea on a sheet a paper or the back of an envelope.  I've heard tell more than once that Elmore Leonard, the brilliant crime novelist, would spend all day with a legal pad, getting a scene just right, before he would sit down at his typewriter, yes, typewriter and finish it.  You've got to find what works for you.  But the main thing is, you've got to keep writing. 

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