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Manholebritmandelo wrote
on May 4th, 2012 at 01:50 pm

Wrote the ending stanza of a poem yesterday; now, I just need to discover what comes first. I have the feel of the piece, obviously, and the closing image, but I still need to figure out the movement/narrative of the thing. Where are we coming from, to get where we end up? What am I encompassing in words, here?

I often write poetry somehow "out of order," and almost always from a particular phrase that resonates when it pops into my head. Sometimes that phrase is the title--ex., "What I Have Not Done"--and sometimes it's the first line--ex., "On Moving Into Your New Home"--and sometimes, it's a chunk out of the middle or the closing that's just right.

The ways that I write in different genres is a thing that consistently intrigues me. Nonfiction, for example, tends to be a hodgepodge of bracket notes, intense outlining, and writing sections completely out of order. (For We Wuz Pushed, I believe I wrote it in this order: intro, chapter 4, chapter 2, chapter 3, conclusions. And that's not even considering how the chapters themselves were drafted.) Reviews, however, always start from the opening paragraph--the one where I introduce the text in question. They're a linear project.

Fiction, too, is nearly always a linear project. I know so many folks who employ bracket notes or write out of order for fiction, but it doesn't work for me. What's perfectly natural in nonfiction or poetry is a major stumbling block in fiction. It's sort of a chicken-or-egg question with regards to outlining in the fiction process, too--do I outline because I like to have the story clearly developed and written in my head first, or do I outline because it's the only comfortable way to do things out of order for me in fiction? Because I sure as hell don't outline in order. Generative ideas for fiction can be any of a thousand things--and rarely do they come in beginning-middle-end order.

I like de-mystifying process, but sometimes the more I think about it, the more mysterious it gets.

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