The Writing Life

…a literary journey

Crossing the Arc


Wanting something other than what we have – it’s such a human flaw. My daughter has straight hair and wants curly; a co-worker of mine has naturally curly hair and spends hours ironing it straight most mornings. We’re all guilty of it one way or another – I just didn’t expect it to invade my writing life.

I was reading an article this month, probably in Writer’s Digest or Poets & Writers, discussing the pros and cons of writing scenes out-of-order. The main point being driven home was don’t jump to writing all the exciting, turning-point moments just because it seems more important. The piece went on to talk about how those small, transitional scenes that connect and build the story are important too.

Makes sense. And I could see how someone would want to skip over a lot of the initial plot building and get to the ‘important’ parts. I had even written a few scenes in Oldsters out-of-order – just to see how they sounded, try to decide whether they would fit in or not.

Good article, valid points – but I didn’t really give it much thought after I finished the magazine.

Writing away on my novel, taking so much care to make sure each scene moves the story along, I was actually taking pleasure in the decisive way I had decided to structure the story. My characters had all met, formed initial bonds, agreed to duck out of the retirement home and take this unforgettable ride down Route 66 to carry out their plan. I was ready to write some of the more meaty, emotion-filled episodes.

And what happens? I get stuck. I know exactly how I want the scene to go, but for days I’ve been doing anything but writing it. With a few days off from the day job, I’ve cleaned, I’ve watched TV, and now I’m writing this post – somehow afraid of what I need to do next. Maybe not afraid, probably more hesitant because I’m not the writer that just writes a first draft and then plans on revising several times. I want to get it down as good as possible the first time. So here I am, at this important arc in my story, and I have one leg draped over the side of it like:

Just laying there, thinking, running it through my head over and over like someone who has all the time in the world to figure it out. See, it helps to write it down here – logically I know I just need to write the darn scene, but sometimes I just have to get my thoughts out (doesn’t hurt to find this picture that will make me feel like a lazy daydreamer until the scene is finished!)

It’s like exercise, right? I know how much better I’ll feel when it’s done – but hey don’t get me started on that…

write on…

2 comments on “Crossing the Arc

  1. iamvickiroberts
    July 26, 2013

    Thank you so much for the comment…what I love about writing, is that there seems to be so many books and articles about writing rules – but it really comes down to how each of us feels comfortable working. Your example is perfect – if you struggle connecting them, then no sense in putting that extra stress in the process, right? It’s like outlining versus no outlining – whatever works for you. As long as we keep writing.

  2. jkrent
    July 25, 2013

    I’ve thought about writing the scenes out of order, but I always struggle with connecting them. I get a scene towards the end done and then start with the beginning, only to head towards the end and go in a different direction. Hope it works better for you!

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