The Joys of Writing Out of Order: Tristina Wright talks NaNoWriMo


So, you’re NaNoing along, hitting your word counts every day, following your heart or your meticulous outline (or both) and, bam, you hit a snag.

You hate this scene.

You’re bored.

You’re stuck.

What you wrote in the outline doesn’t quite jive with where the story is now.

Whatever the case may be, under normal circumstances, you’d take the time to backtrack and rewrite. Or scrap it and start again. You’d take a day to redo the outline or rethink this section.

But this is NaNo and you can’t quite do….well…any of that. You don’t have time and now you’re stressed because you aren’t getting your word count in while you try to figure out what you actually did wrong and oh no you’re gonna not finish and and and


So you’re stuck, what’s the option for getting unstuck during a time crunch?

Skip ahead.

Yes, you heard me right. Skip ahead. Find a scene you want to write. That kissing scene? Write it.

The death scene? Write it.

The villain’s monologue? Write it.

The final scene of the entire novel? Write. It.

Your book is not an IKEA bookshelf. You can go out of order. There is no map. Think of it more like a board game and you’re not rolling a 1 every move. You skip ahead 2, 4, 6 spaces every turn. Jump ahead to what you want to write, what’s tugging at you like a hook to your navel, what’s scratching at your brain like your pet at the door, what’s tapping on your arm like the toddler who needs your attention Right Now.

Your book is a puzzle and you’re snapping in the pieces one by one, scene by scene. It’s okay if you want to craft the very end first. Or if you want to write That Scene next.

The wonderful thing about this method is that while you’re getting your word count down and chugging along jumping around, you might actually figure out how to connect Point A to Point C in a way you never saw before. Your new Point B that had you horribly snagged and stuck and frustrated and bored could be something wildly different you never considered.

I jump around a lot while writing. With every new project I start, I tell myself I’ll write a great outline then writing it point by point and it’ll be done before I know it.

I get to about…10,000 words before I say a few choice curse words, refrain from throwing my computer across the room, and jump ahead to somewhere toward the end of Act II and write a kissing scene or a death scene.

Many of my stories have come about because a random scene popped into my head like a paused frame of a movie. I see a couple people, a setting, some expressions, and that’s it. That scene might end up in the final version or it might not, but it jumpstarts a story nevertheless.

The point is, you don’t need to stay adhered to a rigid path of A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. You can, if that works for you. But if you find yourself stuck or frustrated or even bored?

Skip ahead to V.

See what happens.

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About Author

Tristina Wright

Tristina Wright is a blue-haired bisexual with anxiety and opinions. She’s also possibly a mermaid, but no one can get confirmation. She writes YA SFF novels and short stories with queer teens who become heroes and monsters. She enjoys stories with monsters and kissing and monsters kissing. She married a nerd who can build her new computers and make the sun shine with his smile. Most days, she can be found drinking coffee from her favorite chipped mug and making up stories for her two wombfruit, who keep her life hectic and unpredictable. Her debut short story, The Siren Son, will be published in Lightspeed Magazine. Her debut novel 27 HOURS (Entangled Teen) will be published Fall 2017.

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