To Skip or to Push Through?

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I’ve mentioned once or twice that the current draft I’ve been working on has been beyond tedious. I’m changing it from first person to third person POV, from present tense to past tense, and trying to restructure the scenes at the same time with darker, more dangerous elements that amp up the tension and make the story more cohesive. It’s a pretty ambitious revision, and it’s been taking me months.

Currently I’m 75 pages from the end, trying to meet a deadline of February 27th (when I exchange with my writing group), and this week I decided to go back and fill in some holes.

Does anybody else write this way, where you’ll let yourself put bracketed notes-to-self?

[Don’t feel like writing this scene yet, so I’ll get back to it later, but such-and-such needs to happen here.]

I usually don’t, but maybe because of the said tediousness of this draft, I’ve been doing it this time around, and I’ve found that I approve of the scheme.

For example, I actually had fun going back and writing a scene where one of the guys picks up on a girl he’s just met. Somehow the scene didn’t appeal to me when I was at that point chronologically, but a hundred-something pages later I loved writing it, and it was a nice break from trying to push through the last 75 pages (which I now have to get back to). And if I had forced myself to write it in order, I probably wouldn’t have had as much fun, and I worry that that would show.

If I don’t love my scenes as the writer, how could I expect readers to?

Writers and readers, what about you? Do you skip parts that you’re not interested in at the moment? I can’t do it when I’m reading something I’ve never read before, but I know readers who swear by the practice, as in, “It’s one of my favorite books, but you have to skip the boring parts.” Writers, do you go through every draft from page one until the end, or do you skip around?

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6 responses »

  1. I think every writer is different, but for me, I skip around. I write what appeals to me that day and I think it comes out very exciting. I definitely use the brackets to skip parts I don’t want to write then — and then that part will appeal to me later. I think it’s because I don’t have that scene very clear in my head yet, so my subconscious has to think more on it. But it also make my revisions tougher. Now this is just with the first draft, and when I start revisions, I make myself go from start to finish so I can check for story-buildup and accuracy. It works for me, but sometimes I really wonder if I make it harder because it comes out a lot rougher and there is a lot more to revise.

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    • I know. I’m always wondering whether I make it tougher for myself either way. I actually can’t skip on a first draft, only on revisions, so I guess I’m kind of the opposite, though I might try the skipping on my next first draft.

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  2. I definitely skip around and write the scenes I’m passionate about first. It helps me because by the time I’ve invested so many scenes toward a book, I’m less likely to give up on writing it when I get to the boring parts.

    Of course, there aren’t supposed to be boring parts, but you get my drift.

    If I ever feel discouraged, I write a passion scene, no matter where it falls in the book.

    However, in my current book, I’m actually trying it the chronological way. We’ll see how it goes. I’m 15,000 words in.

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  3. I have to start at the beginning and frequently have to go back to the beginning to fix things. I wish I could skip around or say I’d go back to it later, but it eats at me until it at least fits into the story. I can say a scene is mediocre and I’ll fix it later, but I have to have continuity between the scenes.

    Which is bad when I’m trying to finish at least a rough draft for our whole novel review and have to go back and change things.

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