Why So Linear? (thoughts on the writing process)

Nothing’s worse than staring a blank document and a blinking cursor. A cursor seems appropriately named because it’s as if the word processing time bomb is making a mockery of our lack of creativity. But why is it such a task to write the first word? My writing philosophy decides not to give in to that elusive first word. In “Never Upon A Time,” as in most other lengthy pieces I write, I wrote the ending first. Visualizing the action as a scene in a movie, I created a sudden and climactic conclusion. Granted, I had some clue as to events which would lead up to the ending, but having a destination made sewing together the preceding scenes much less daunting. Gaps in character development and plot sequencing, in my opinion, often arise when writers use a non-linear, strictly A-Z approach to composition. In these instances, especially in fiction, writers could possibly find themselves nearing the end of a story without having properly grown the characters or rationed the information. Being rushed and throwing in last minute information just to bring cohesion is a risky business and might leave your readers skeptical of the story’s credibility. So don’t start with chapter one. If you think of a particularly dynamic dialogue or a vivid scene, write it down. If you want to analyze a character and create a timeline of his or her development, write it down. Creating a believable plot twist through a story-line while writing in chronological order could be a difficult task, so try creating scenes and weaving symbolism or foreshadowing instances to tie them together.
At the end of my book, there is a poem. I knew the type of information I would withhold throughout the story, so I used lyrics (or, in this case, a magic spell) at the end to clarify events– like plugging holes in an intentionally leaky boat. But, in actuality, I did just the opposite, and that’s why I say “intentionally leaky.” My “boat,” or the story I hoped would capture a readerships’ attention, was floating just fine. That is how I envisioned the conclusion of my story, as an entity void of gaps. It was only when I knew the strength of the ending that I could backtrack and puncture holes in the exact places I needed.


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