Out of Chaos

There are two ways of going about writing a novel – chronologically from beginning to end or haphazardly.

I’ve always envied my writing buddies who start at the beginning and write the story through in sequence – scene by scene, chapter by chapter. It make life a lot easier when recalling the detail. But it just doesn’t work for me.

As a designer I work out what the key message is and who the target audience should be, then I gather together all the pieces (text and images, logos etc). I do a few rough layouts then, often using the best elements from each design, bring the whole thing together as final thoughtful marketing piece.

Another way of explaining it is that it’s like doing a jigsaw. I pick out all the outside pieces and fit them together so that I can see the size and shape of the puzzle. Then I’ll work on individual sections slotting them together as the fit becomes evident.

One of the benefits of doing it this way is that you discover things you wouldn’t otherwise find, like plot twist or character traits. Of course it’s not necessarily all used, but I know from experience that it certainly helps to build more complex plots and much stronger characters.

Also on first draft I don’t tend to write the whole ending of the book. I know the rough finale but I’ve discovered that some of the aspects, e.g., character development, once worked on further, can influence the outcome quite considerably. In the original draft of The Taste of Ash, Zoë was quite a different person. She was too reliant on her boyfriend and I didn’t actually have much empathy with her. As a result the ending was a lot weaker than the final version.

Although it’s easier to get confused, in many ways, haphazard is a more fun way of working as you can work on the fast and furious major scenes then slot in slower linking ones, which means you are more aware of the shape of the novel and it’s peaks and troughs.

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way of doing – it’s whatever works for you.

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