Every writer ultimately decides what strategies and techniques work best for them, and that’s as it should be. Even if you have a formal education in the craft of creative writing, whether fiction or journalism, much of the learning process comes from simply doing it. Trial and error. And your self-education never ends, either. There is only one “graduation” from this lifelong school of Life. But before that, classes are always in session.
Weaving Together Patterns that Mix ‘n’ Match
For me, I often start with a title. They typically just pop into my head, and I take it from there. And then certain scenes start developing in my head, often when I’m walking a dog. Then I rush home and write them down, even though I haven’t yet built the surrounding context.
In fact, even if it’s a novel, I often write the final paragraph first. Then it’s just a matter of getting there.
But I don’t always start back at the beginning, either. If a particular character exchange or situation springs to mind, rather than just jot down notes in an outline, I often compose an entire draft of the sequence, fleshing it out as I go.
When these sections are integrated into the rest of the piece, they often inform formerly unrelated links in the narrative chain, even changing the trajectory of the plot itself.
Basically, you need to write when inspiration strikes, and sometimes, your source of inspiration is not only fickle, but also random.
Never force yourself to write anything, unless you’re it’s commissioned piece due on a strict deadline, of course. Then you just need to get over yourself, since it’s not about your and your artistic ego. But if it’s meant for commercial escapism, not just information, then you need to take your time, and pour as much pure enthusiasm into the project as possible.
Mixing If Not Matching Metaphors…
Think of it as a giant stew with multiple ingredients. They don’t all have to go into the pot at the same time. You can dice some carrots here, sauté some onions there. As long as they all blend together harmoniously in the finalized recipe, it doesn’t matter which you prepare first.
So it goes, or can go, when constructing a story, of any length. Write the parts that are most compelling to you first. Then go back and blend them with the parts that maybe you don’t find as interesting to write, but whose details are necessary to the narrative’s integrity.
Then you can add spices and other elements that enrich the flavor of the piece. You won’t know it’s done until you taste it yourself, and ask others to do the same.
Just make sure the “best” parts, meaning the one you had most fun writing and literally couldn’t wait to get to, aren’t necessarily “better” than the connective elements. Your reader probably has a discerning palate, so even if the meat of the book is satisfactory, if the sauce sucks, that dish is getting tossed.
And they’ll never devour anything created by you again. Bon Appétit.