Skipping Ahead

If you didn't already know, I'm mildly OCD. I hate reading books out of order. I won't watch a movie sequel if I haven't seen the first one. I don't even want to watch a TV series unless I start from the beginning. If I'm going to get into a story, I don't want to miss a thing.

That may help you to understand what happened to me the other day.

I was writing chapter 20, in which protagonist and friend are escaping from a pirate lord's prison. As in many of Air Pirate's chapters, there is a fight scene.* Fight scenes always stick me. Mainly because the outline says something to the effect of "Sam and Kiro fight. Sam wins," and I realize I don't know how he wins.

I'm aware that one way of getting through writer's block is to skip ahead to another scene. So I tried that. I started to type "[fight scene]" where the scene would go, intending to move on to what happened after the fight.

But hard as I tried, I just couldn't do it.

I've identified two reasons I couldn't skip ahead. The first is quite sane: I use past events to inform future ones. Minor details that I think of during one scene will come up again later once I'm aware of them. Like in one airship escape sequence (this one, in fact), the police hit Protag's ship with a harpoon-like weapon I made up on the spot. Also made up on the spot was how the protagonists then cut the cables to free themselves, leaving harpoons and severed cables hanging from the airship.

In the next scene, I realized these cables had to be pulled out, so Sam enlisted Hagai to do so. This made for an excellent opportunity to showcase Hagai's low self-esteem and uselessness, and it gave me a good place for Hagai to have a conversation with another character.

Now obviously these sorts of threads and connections can be added after the fact in revision, but as I've touched on before, I'd rather not if I can help it. I'd rather get it right, or at least mostly right, the first time.

But the second reason I couldn't skip ahead - and more likely the real reason - is far less sane. I couldn't make myself skip ahead because, just as if I'd accidentally hit Next on my DVD remote, I felt like I missed part of the action. I wanted to know what happened.

That's right. You think I'm writing for others, but the truth is I'm writing this story, and probably all the others, because I want to know what happens next. I guess that's not so insane. I'm writing for me as much as anyone.

* Out of 28 chapters, 18 have either a fight scene or a chase scene. What can I say? I like action.

3 comments:

Natalie said...

I totally get what you mean. I couldn't skip like that. Sometimes I unintentionally skip stuff, but that's like extended scenes and bonus material.

Every piece of a story effects the next. I hope the scene turns/turned out how you wanted:)

MattyDub said...

Don't worry about being sane, Adam. We're all quite mad here.
-M

Adam Heine said...

Well, Natalie, I like the scene so far, but I'll have to wait for the verdict of my Beloved Alpha Reader before I know if it turned out the way that I wanted :-)

Matt, I present this elaboration of my insanity. Back when the Chronicles of Narnia were published in the order they were written, I decided I wanted to read them in chronological order. But I wasn't content to read The Horse and His Boy after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. After all, Horse occurs *during* Wardrobe.

So I read Wardrobe near to the end, then stopped where he says they reigned happily as Kings and Queens of Narnia and had many adventures (or something to that effect). I put my bookmark there, read the entirety of Horse, then picked up Wardrobe where I left off (all 10ish pages of it) before moving on to Prince Caspian.

I know I'm not alone in my insanity, but it's fun to share neuroses :-)