Author Elana Johnson on Writing Out of Order

Today, I am super excited to welcome YA author and super blogger Elana Johnson. Seriously, I don't know how she gets everything done. Just take a look at her bio down below. I'm convinced she has some superhuman power to put more hours in the day.

But today she's here to talk to us about her writing method and writing out of order. Just reading this post almost caused me to break out in hives because I'm such a chronological writer, but I find it SO interesting to hear how other writer minds work.

So without further ado, here's Elana... (and remember to comment on this post and leave your email address because each commenter will get a chance to read Elana's debut YA dystopian POSSESSION!)

Writing Out of Order

Okay, I’ve been saying this a lot in my verbal presentations, but it might be news for some of you out there. (And I think Larry Brooks is going to roll his eyes—I took a class from him on Saturday that pretty much struck down how I draft. Ha!)

But anyway, today I’m going to talk a little bit about my writing strategy. Which, is, uh… I don’t have a strategy.

Here’s what I do:
1.      I have a scene in my head. Usually this comes after many days of thinking about either a character or a plot element that sounds interesting to me. 
2.      I sit down at the computer and type out the scene. Often it includes stuff like [Later this will be important] or [The next day]. These bracketed things get highlighted in yellow. The document gets saved with something like “Echo in the kitchen” and saved in a folder on my desktop. 
3.      I repeat step 2 for 10 scenes, 15 scenes, whatever. Sometimes I even email myself the scene because I’m not on the right computer. No lie. 
4.      At this point, I think, “This might be a book,” and I copy and paste all the individual scenes into a brand new document into the order they should be in. 
5.      I play surgeon and stitch the scenes that are near to each other together by searching for the yellow highlights and writing needed material. 
6.      I work backward to the beginning, usually writing chapter one after I’ve written anywhere from 50 - 100 pages. 
7.      After I have everything stitched and the novel “started,” I can work linearly to the end. 
8.      BUT, I write the query letter first. Since I don’t outline, I don’t really know what the end of my novel is. So I’m staring at the first 75 – 100 pages, and I need to know where I’m going. The query letter helps me clarify that. 
9.      After the query is done, I get back to drafting the novel. 
10.  Ta-da! Writing out of order is as messy as it sounds.  
So what about you? Do you write in order from beginning to end? Or are you comfortable just getting the story out no matter how it’s done?

[elana.jpg]Elana Johnson’s debut novel, Possession, will be published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster) on June 7, 2011. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for free download. School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog and WriteOnCon, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers. Elana is represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary.

Thanks so much to Elana for stopping by and make sure you answer her questions above in the comments and leave your email address if you want to have a chance to win an ARC of POSSESSION!!!!  (Also, in case you breezed by her bio, look again--her book on querying is available for FREE download, people.)

*Contest available for those in the U.S. and Canada only (sorry!). Entries will be accepted until midnight (central) tomorrow. Winner will be announced in Friday's post.