I’m sure that you’ve read the title of this post and are thinking, “well, duh.” But hear me out.
Imagine that you’re in the middle of writing a scene, and you’re suddenly struck by an idea that fits perfectly into a scene that you won’t get to for a while. Or maybe it’s an idea that will come in handy later in the scene that you’re writing right now. What do you do with that idea? Do you jot it down somewhere and then come back to it when you’re ready for it? If you do that, you might lose the essence of why you thought it was such a good idea. Instead, why not just write through that idea for a bit and then continue where you left off?
I know that there are two camps of people — those who strictly write in a linear fashion and those who like to jump around more. But for those in the linear camp, I want to advise jumping around in your story every now and then. For the most part, I’m a linear writer as well. I like to write the scenes as they occur in the storyline. But recently, I was writing and found myself jumping to the end of the scene just to get down some dialogue that I really liked. I picked right back up in the linear story, but I was glad that I wrote that dialogue first because then it wasn’t plaguing my brain anymore and I knew I had it captured.
If you simply can’t bring yourself to jump around in your writing, at least do your idea jotting in the same document where you’re writing your story. I used to have a separate document open for random scraps of ideas, but I’ve learned to just include those ideas in the story document. That prevents you from losing them and it means they’re always there when you open up your story document, always reminding you of the ideas you have for later in the story.
I like to think of this advice as a slightly smaller version of the “write the fun stuff first” method. You don’t have to race through the “fun” parts of your story and then come back to the boring bits. But it might help you to jump to the end of a scene now and then if your brain is seized by some brilliant dialogue. Try it out!
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan