Fiction Tips: The Chronology of My Madness
I’ve been bitching to my writer friends (and anyone who’ll listen) that I can’t seem to write a goddamn story without some weird time warp timeline. WHY CAN’T I WRITE FORWARD? Meaning I start at point A and move to point B and then C and then D until I get to the end. FLASHBACKS SHOULDN’T BE MY ENEMY.
But the other day, after coming off revision #5968657475457 for book #3 and returning to book #4 (the one giving me hives because of the timeline), I took a step back and asked myself, Well, why CAN’T I write this forward? What’s stopping me but me?
Yes, it sounds so simple. It IS so simple. But my brain and heart had to meet up, apparently, and be like OK, WE CAN DO THIS. We CAN write this story in chronological order. Because, WHY NOT?
And so now I’m licking my lips with anticipation, my fingers twitching over the keyboard, the ideas tumbling out. And I’m outlining. Holy crap a real honest-to-goodness outline. (I think the outline is proving easier this time around since the story is going in order…it’s hard for me to write an outline when time warping.)
Essentially, I just keep asking myself one question: So then what happened? And bird by bird, just like Anne Lamott promised, it’s coming together.
I share this only to remind my fellow scribes (and to show readers my ridiculous process) that sometimes you need to stop and question why you can’t write something a certain way. Too often, we writers get caught up in so-called rules (e.g. don’t write in present tense, don’t write in second person, don’t open with weather, don’t kill your main character) that we accept them without question. And sometimes these “rules” come from our own heads.
Stop. Drop. And question. Always question. Try breaking one of the rules and see how it feels.