Thursday, June 26, 2008

Me and E.B., running with scissors and playing with glue

Oh, yay! E.B. did it, too...

"Scenes that are out of place leap out at me. I have to cut and paste because they don't belong where I've put them. E.B. White calls this "transposition." He was a big cutter and paster. He felt that manuscripts often have serious flaws in the placement of their material..." --From The Shape of the Novel, at The Tollbooth

I write scenes out of order all the time. It's ridiculous---like my brain is in another time zone.

But it's not as hard as you might think to manipulate the space-time continuum. It just takes days of determined effort. Mwahahaha!


  1. You know if we are BOTH messing with the space-time continuum that could be problematic.

  2. Not as long as we stay in our parallel alternate universes.

  3. Something 've thought about before is that we like to think of the universe as linearly ordered but our brains don't work that way. If we are casually telling a story we jump around with the details, with backstory, with asides. We'll start with something later on and build toward it. Sometimes there's value in what our non-linear brains are trying to tell us about the way things connect.

  4. I agree, David. Even stories without flashbacks or other obvious time jumps are rarely truly linear. All books manipulate time in the service of the greater story. Because, as you say, that's how our brains work.

  5. The day I finally mastered cut and paste was a happy one indeed. Now I take out, put back, repeat ad nauseam all day long.

    I like what David says about storytelling being nonlinear. Few people start a story at A and finish at Z. It's figuring out where to start that's tricky -- and how many of the letters we should leave out along the way...


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