Monday, September 17, 2007

This Morning's Questions for Tristi

When I checked my mail this morning, I found some questions in my comment trail.

First was Anne, in reference to the doggy tongue picture: "LOL! Where DO you get these amazing pictures, Tristi??? Should I do some more Google Image searching?"

Anne, I have a couple of friends who like to send me e-mails with pictures in them. I save the ones I like and rotate them on my desktop -- I have to have something new to look at about every four days or I get bored. (Notice how often I change my blog color? Same thing.) The other pictures, the ones that match the topic of my blog, are found on Google Images.

Don said: "But tell me please, oh wise and experienced writers, how do you keep everything straight when writing out of order? Different files? Place holders? Crossed fingers? An idea this radical is going to require a plan."

There are a couple of different things you can do, and the ones I'm about to share are those that I've used myself. I'd like the other authors who read this to chime in with their techniques in the comment trail so we can gather even more ideas.

First one is probably the one I use the most often. Let's use Dick and Jane as an example. I know that Dick is going to get a bike for his birthday, and I know that later he's going to fall off the bike and break his arm. So I'm writing along and I realize that I really should make the birthday party a scene. So let's say I have scenes like this:

Dick gets bike

Dick falls off bike and breaks arm

I'll just page up to above him getting the bike and insert the birthday party scene.

But what if I realize that there's a long way to go before where I am and the "breaking of the arm" scene? And what if I don't know what should come in the middle?

I'll write the "getting the bike" scene, and then I'll just insert a sentence. "Put more here." And then I'll page down and keep writing. Then when I come back, I'll remember where I wanted to flesh out. This way, everything is in one document and I know right where it is.

Another idea is just what you said, Don, which is to use different files for the chapters that are out of sequence. Then just insert them when you're ready for them. I don't do that as much -- I generally just go back and insert things I think I missed or page down to put things at the end as I go, as described above.

One thing that really helps is a tip I got from James Dashner. He doesn't put in chapter headings and page breaks until almost the very end of his editing process. When he first said this, I couldn't believe it, but now I recognize the wisdom and leave them out myself. Then after you've written all you want to and have fleshed it out as much as you'd like, you go in and put them in. He says you can get too hung up on chapter length if you label them, and I agree.


Traci Hunter Abramson said...

I definitely write a lot of my scenes out of order. Generally, I just leave an inch or two of blank space between where I left off and the scene I skipped ahead to.

I do keep the scenes in the order I think they're going to come, so there are times that I may have four or five scenes waiting for me to catch up to. I then go back to where I left off and start building bridges between the body of the story and part I couldn't wait to write.

Katie Parker said...

Tristi, I do pretty much the same thing. I write my scenes in the order that I think they're going to go, but I'm constantly leaving notes for myself about "add this here" or "bring this up earlier."

And sometimes I've got a great scene brewing in my mind that I've just got to write, but trying to physically place it with the rest of the manuscript at that point would be a nightmare. So I write it in a separate document and leave notes for myself in the manuscript regarding where to add it later and what will be needed to really connect it to the rest of the story.

Bottom line...whatever works. Thank goodness for word processors.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I us a program called PageFour from It is written especially for writers and I love it. I can have all my chapters of scenes open in tabs across the bottom of the page. I jump back and forth between these all the time. It is easy to rearrange the order of things and when everything is finished, you can merge all the files into one complete document. Before I got this program I was always having to scroll up and down in my document. Kind of made me crazy.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Stephanie, that software sounds so cool! I just may have to break down and get it.

Annette Lyon said...

I do this, too, putting my scene notes in all caps and sometimes highlighting them so they stand out. Often I'm excited about a scene and want to get it down then. If I don't do that and instead insist on doing things chronologically, I'll block myself. Jumping around actually helps me find new and exciting connections between plot points. I couldn't do it any other way.

Stephanie, that software sounds really cool! I may have to check it out.

Anna Maria Junus said...

I can't jump around until I've done the first draft. The first draft is definately linear for me. Then I go in later and insert scenes if needed.

ali said...

The idea of writing without chapter or page breaks is new to me. I find it kind of exciting! I'm going to have to try that.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

The great thing about the pagefour software is it is not expensive. The lisence is 29.95 which includes all the free updates.

C.S. Bezas said...

All of this is wonderful. Does the software work on Macs? I went to the website and couldn't find system requirement info. I'm eager to try it! :0)

Karlene said...

Another great place for images that I just found is

This is a site where people post photos and provide links that you can put in your blog. It's wonderful. For a sample, go to my blog and see the . photos I posted on Tuesday.

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