I don’t know about you, but I am the type of writer to likes to pen a story in a linear fashion. Write chapters in order. In sequence. I’ve never been one to skip ahead and write the end. Or jump a couple chapters ahead to jot down something in chapter twenty when I’m still in chapter five. I am the same when it comes to writing chapters. I write them from start to finish. Always.
For me, writing out of sequence is a failproof recipe for plot holes.
But sometimes, as collaborative writers, it comes with the territory. It’s a fact of writing life. And just because I don’t like writing out of order doesn’t mean I don’t do it if the need arises. The way Sarah and I divvy our chapters out means, occasionally, we have to write chapters before the previous one has been written. And that’s the exact situation I found myself in this past month.
It was an interesting challenge. I started writing from the middle of the chapter (highly unusual for me) since I didn’t know how/where Sarah’s chapter was going to end. I wanted to minimise the amount of re-writing I would have to do once I had Sarah’s chapter in hand. I tried to create a scene that could feasibly work with the range of different scenarios the previous chapter might present. I couldn’t write the ending either as the discussion was intricately tied with the events of the previous chapter, so that was also a ‘wait and see’.
Overall, despite a few difficult spots, this worked fairly well, and I did manage to write about 2500 words of the chapter, albeit with a few sections where I need to fill in the blanks.
Sarah sent me her chapter yesterday, and after reading it, I was pleasantly surprised. We had somehow managed to avoid any massive plot contradictions, and the only minor issue is that one of the character’s reactions is inconsistent. But that’s hardly an issue. I am looking forward to finishing (and beginning) this chapter and moving on to the next one.
Do you write your chapters in sequence? Or do you have a different process? Let me know in the comments.