Sunday, October 20, 2013

Going Against my Linear Self

The current story I'm working on is set in the Yukon during the gold rush or 1898.  I've had trouble finding information about the settlements that were along the route from Skagway to Dawson and then Dawson to St. Michael.  What I have found has mostly been online photos taken 1898 and later. Trying to decipher what I see and then use the little bit I found online, I conclude if they put a telephone in July of 1898 then they should have electricity since in 1899 they were using steam run drills to get through the perma frost to dig to the gold veins.

When I couldn't come up with a concrete answer, I sent an email off to the Dawson Historical Society and while waiting for a reply I wrote two chapters set in Dawson in a hotel using my assumption there would be electricity and running water.

The historical society finally emailed back and they said no, there wasn't electricity or running water. So I asked if they had any suggestions of books that would help me. They gave me a list and I found two of them in the used books on Amazon and ordered them.

The problem with being a linear writer is I either had to sit and wait for the books to continue the story, because I don't like to leave gaps or question marks and move on, but in this case it would be a week before I get the information and didn't want to stop my momentum in the story, so I continued on and should have the book finished by the time the research books arrive. Then I will go back and make revisions on those two chapters to fully capture the living conditions at the time in a hotel, hopefully, if the books I receive will have that information.

This book which I hope to have available in November is going against my usual nature to start at the beginning and keep on writing without leaving gaps in the story. Granted, there isn't a gap because it is filled in, just with inaccurate information but in my thinking that is a gap and there might be something that will happen with the change the could impact the rest of the story. That is what I fear and why I write linear.

As a reader can you tell if the writer is a linear or sporadic writer? If you're a writer are you linear or do you jump around when writing scenes?


Anonymous said...

I am definitely a linear writer as well. That's because I put myself in the characters' minds and let the story unfold based on their thoughts and actions in moving toward their goals. However, I am comfortable with leaving gaps when I can't find something right away. I put it TBD in big letters and highlight in in yellow.

I've never had to wait a week or two though to get an answer. That would probably drive me bonkers. As I reader I have never noticed a difference in linear vs out-of-order scene writers even when I know the writer. I don't know how anyone could tell that in a finished book.

Congratulations for continuing your momentum.

Jamie Brazil said...

The Yukon has such a rich history. I have friends who live on the McPherson Trail just outside of Whitehorse and have been fortunate enough to visit several times. There is a museum in Skagway... historic goldmine. BTW, have you heard about the new reality TV series about gold mining in the Yunon?

Paty Jager said...

Hi Maggie, I guess if the hop around writer is good at going through and making everything flow it wouldn't be noticed. I just wondered. Thanks!

Jamie, I have been to Skagway, the museum, and we "toured" the Chilkoot trail by bus and train. But at the time I didn't know I was going to write this book, or I would have worked harder at gathering more information while I was there. ;)

No I haven't heard of the series Yukon. It's probably cable or satellite. I have neither. ;)

Danita Cahill said...

I'm a jump around writer. Probably why I'm not as fast at getting a book done.