My writing out of order post for today was inspired by Sharon’s post, especially when she says: I’m picturing mounds of miscellaneous files and a cluster fuck when it comes time to piece the stuff together in the end.

The only words of comfort I can offer is, yes, it is. But I mean that in the best possible way, evidenced by this snippet of dialogue from one ms:

“Lieutenant, do you know what the definition of cluster fuck is?”

Justin winced at General Joe’s choice of words. “Yes sir. An evolution remarkable for its significant lack of excellence, sir.”

Well, a few things had been excellent, but he certainly couldn’t tell Joe about those.

These moments of excellence always hit, for me, when I’ve gotten the first 150 or so pages down consecutively (and yes, I usually write those out of order too, but somehow it doesn’t get crazy until this point) and then I get to that fun part where I know it’s all going to work out somehow. I’ve survived the WIP so far and I’m going back for more — the, I-can’t- stop-writing-even-if-I-wanted-to, moment. It’s like, you’ve made the plane jump but the wind caught the parachute (hey, at least it opened) and you ended up miles from where you should be and right in the middle of the fire. Your back’s against the wall, the enemy’s behind you and you’ve got no ammo and no way out. Things are piling up in front of you, scads of extra scenes (some of my out-of-order random scene docs are over 20 pages long with no apparent rhyme or reason to them at all) that need to be cut and pasted into the manuscript and then fleshed out and layered and you still aren’t completely sure where you’re going to end up and there’s machine gun fire exploding over your head. Because…

What if your hero gets amnesia at the last minute?
What if it turns out that the villain is the hero’s father?
What if your hero morphs into a merman? (oh wait, that’s Suzanne’s hero)
What if you make chapter three chapter one and rearrange everything?

Some of you might be hyperventilating at this point. I’m just starting to have fun.

So it’s balls to the wall time. You paint your face cammy, prepare for hand-to-hand combat and turn around to face the enemy. Adrenaline’s churning all over the place because you just know that you can get this whole massive puzzle together and let your characters save the world. (Did I mention you also need a pretty good memory too? Because, then you can go, wait, I wrote the perfect piece of dialogue/paragraph that would fit here two months ago, and then you go off on a merry search and destroy to find it and piece it together in a massive puzzle kind of way.)

Sharon just took a huge swig of Benedryl. I’ll bet Amy’s clapping, although she plots, so she might not have the whole CF situation as badly as I do.

But then all of a sudden lightening strikes and evade and escape become entirely possible and everything becomes clear. You find some extra ammo in your pocket you didn’t even know was there and you make it to the LZ, ms and sanity semi-intact and everything ends up in order and coherent. (Well, semi-coherent, because your crit partner has yet to get to it. And she might actually be running away from you too. But that’s phase two of the completed ms.)

I didn’t say it was pretty. Tactical to practical, as they say.

I have been hanging around my military characters too long.

I’ve written my way through 5 complete mss that way. I can usually get the first three chapters done consecutively (whether they stay that way is anyone’s guess) and then I just open a Word Doc labeled Febscenes or whatever and I just write whatever comes to mind. Almost like a free-write, I guess. (Sometimes I write longhand too — find a chance of pace helps — depends on my mood.) I always end up starting with a line of dialogue, because to me that’s the most fun to write and I’m a character-driven writer. Sometimes I end up with snippets of unrelated dialogue and paragraphs that seem like they’re never going to fit anywhere. And then, when I’m actually in the ms itself, writing along, thinking, what goes here, I realize that I’ve already written what’s supposed to go there.

This is evidenced by the fact that I wrote the scene that directly leads to my black moment probably right after I wrote the first three chapters. I didn’t even know the black moment at the time, and when I finally came up with the black moment, I went back through my scene docs and lo and behold, the scene fit perfectly. I mean, perfectly.

I told you it was scary inside my head. Not really sure who’s driving up there when I write, but it’s nice to know someone is.

But I’ve done my job if I can get a few more people to give writing out of order a try. As Cece says, come to the dark side. We have cookies. And Jake.

Dear Editor:

It all works out in the end. And it rocks. So here’s the manuscript — cammy face paint and parachute are included. Synopsis, not so much. Did I mention I have cookies?

Steph T.