Writer’s Craft #94 – Out of Time
Suzanne writes speculative fiction and poetry from her home in Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband, two kids, and two mischievous black cats. She is currently writing a novel about the teenaged embodiment of the Goddess Kwan Yin. Find links to her published works, notes from the trenches, or snippets from the dark recesses of her brain at http://suzannereynoldsalpert.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/suzwrites. Suzanne tweets at @suzsmuses.
All writers inevitably face this problem: You’re excited about your story and you’ve quickly zipped off several pages or chapters. The protagonist is just right. The story’s unfolding as you imagined. Then suddenly you face the “sophomore slump” equivalent of writing, and you’re just stuck.
Perhaps you’ve written your protagonist into a situation and can’t figure out how to move the action forward. Or another character has done something you didn’t plan. If you outline your story before writing you refer back to it, scratching your head. If you don’t outline you curse yourself for not doing so.
A tactic that has worked for me is to write ahead—or as I refer to it, “writing out of time.”
Recently, I found myself in the “sophomore slump” of my novel-in-progress. I played with different scenarios in my head and attempted to write several of them. Nothing worked. I finally jumped ahead in the story and began to write a key scene where two main characters reunite. It worked—it got me writing again—and it also got me back in touch with my heroine. I was again immersed in her thoughts, her motivations, her burdens. I decided to continue writing from that point forward.
As characters reveal themselves through the writing process, they teach you more about who they are. I have faith that I will go back and successfully pen this novel’s “sophomore year,” knowing was has occurred to them after.
It’s okay to craft your stories out of sequence. As a writer the most important thing you can do is to keep writing.