Bicycling in and out of the story
I’ve found it curious that anything that works really well for a pantser (person who doesn’t outline) is often deemed by the writing community as a “Do not” and a “Really Bad Idea.”
Like moving around in the story as you writing and making changes. It’s called cycling.
It’s not editing or revising as you write, because I’m still creating the story. Unless a sentence is making me go “huh” I don’t fix at the sentence level. Well, except for typos. They’re fair game. I add more description, foreshadowing, maybe whole scenes that I realize I need.
But I have some set guidelines too. I don’t need to them any longer, really. But the major two:
- Don’t move around when I’m stuck, since it can turn into a procrastination tool. On my first novel in the Dark Ages, I’d get stuck and cycle back and start actual revision—changing big things.
- Don’t change sentences because they have to be perfect. I used to work with a cowriter, and he was always trying to change the individual words because the thought if we used happy instead of glad, it might be less marketable.
Knowing these helped me resist temptation to fix something that didn’t need fixing and focus on the story instead.