Question of the Week: Linear Writing

11 Dec

This week’s QoTW comes from Anthony, who asked: “When starting a new project, do you tend to write the entire novel from beginning to end?”


When I start a new novel I write linearly. I get to know more of the character as I write on. If I don’t write from beginning to the end but instead jump from one scene to another, I feel like I’m writing about one person in one stage of their life, then jumping to another stage in their life without knowing how they developed in between the jump. I feel detached from them then. Have I lost you yet? I need to go in order. I need to grow with my characters. Also, if I weren’t to follow the linear method I’d end up writing all my favorite scenes, and I’d have no incentive to write the linking scenes that I’m not fond of but need.

The Writer Who Got a Partial Request


I definitely write in a linear way, but that doesn’t mean I won’t go
back in a second (or third, or fourth) draft and add scenes in.  I’ve
even been known to add entire characters into a later draft.  It’s
funny, though, how often I wind up cutting those “extra” scenes during
editing.  I do a lot of pre-writing, so by the time I get to my rough
draft, I usually have a pretty good idea of the story I want to tell
and how I want to tell it.  Getting to finally write a scene I’ve been
planning in my head for weeks or months is a great incentive to
get me through the sections that are a bit of a slog.

The Writer Who’s Writing Queries


Since, this is my first novel, I have been trying to write linearly. I write mostly from beginning to end and then onto the next scene. However, sometimes a scene may grab me so I write that in a separate document or my writing notebook. Sometimes, those scenes do not even make it into the story, but to me they are just as useful.

The Writer Writing Her First Novel


I usually write whatever scenes stick out the strongest for me, then find a way to link them together. I like to write endings early on so I know where my destination is, and then try to relax and enjoy the journey to get there.

I agree with what Rachel said above me, though… it’s good to write experimental scenes, even if they don’t make it into the book. You can learn a lot about your characters by watching them do stuff you wouldn’t want your audience to know about.

The Writer Who Is Also on Submissions


Thanks so much for your question Anthony!

Audience, how do YOU write?

5 Responses to “Question of the Week: Linear Writing”

  1. Kayleigh December 11, 2009 at 4:52 AM #

    I write linearly, but when I have an idea for a scene later in the book, either I write a summary (as in “She says this, does that then…”) or I actually write the scene.

    For the first novel I completed, I had an ending in mind, but I never wrote the actual scene. By the time I reached the climax, the old ending didn’t fit in anymore. So I try not to have a fixed ending in mind.


    PS: May I just say how happy I am that this blog exists? You guys are the reason I look forward to Mondays. MONDAYS!

    • svonnah December 11, 2009 at 8:45 AM #

      Aww, thanks so much!

      • Kayleigh December 11, 2009 at 10:54 AM #

        No, thank YOU! You guys are awesome. 🙂

  2. Stephanie December 11, 2009 at 4:07 PM #

    I definitely write linearly. I have to write things in order, or else I get confused. If I get ideas for things that will happen later on, I’ll write the idea down in my writing notebook so I can work it in when I get to that part. And plus, having scenes to look forward to is incentive to slog through the scenes I don’t want to write. =)

  3. Landon December 13, 2009 at 2:47 PM #

    I think unless you plan really meticulously, you HAVE to write in a linear fashion, and even then it’d be difficult. Of course, there are exceptions for certain situations and characters and stories–but generally, I agree with the thought that you have to grow with your characters.

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