I have always written chronologically until now. With each of the Flora books I started at the beginning and then just plowed forward. If I got stuck, I was stuck, and there I stayed until I could figure out how to unstick (Get out of bed, Flora! It's not that bad!). This worked well enough, although sometimes it meant I sat around for weeks waiting for Flora to get out of bed. She likes to lay around and moan, that girl.
But for years, I've been accumulating bits of METAL MORE ATTRACTIVE; short stories, longer pieces that clearly fit in the narrative somewhere, but where oh where? And while I had an idea of what actually happened in the end, I didn't have any idea how the pieces fit together or why things happened, or what the over arcing story line was about other than Hardhands' burning desire to burn.
So when I finished FLORA'S DARE, I thought this is finally the time to figure out what the heck is going on with that boy and his little tiny doom. When I tallied up the fragments I had over 80K words. That's more than half a book! They were pretty good fragments too; I just had to figure out how they went together. And that's what I've been doing the last few months. Fleshing some out some stuff, cutting out other stuff, discovering back-story that I hadn't realized I'd inserted, and even, in a couple of cases, finding important scenes that I have no actual memory of ever writing. So I guess in a way, I'm following Joss's advice for the first time ever. And it's working out pretty well. I'm still at about 80K due to the splicing, pruning and adding, but now that 80K actually fits together in a (dis)orderly fashion and I feel as though I have some good sense of what's going on. Although I've been wrong about that before. (Never trust a trickster who you think isn't even in the book and then turns out to have been there all along pretending to be other characters.)
And there is something to be said, I realize now, about writing the really compelling urgent stuff first and then connecting it together later. Hardhands and Tiny Doom are rather urgent people (unlike Flora, who wants the answers quickly but don't have no energy) and so I often drop in on them and find them doing in the middle of doing some incredibly urgent thing they don't have time to explain. I just have to follow along behind, scribbling notes furiously, and then once the fuss has died down try to figure what *that* was all about. This is much more fun than sitting around waiting for Flora to get out of bed.
(I love ya, Flora, but more murder, less art!)
I have to say this is also making the writing process much more interesting and exciting. And when you have no idea what's going to happen next, and maybe next turns out to come before, well, the solving the puzzle makes the second draft much more fun.
As Nini Mo once said: if you spend all your time looking behind you, you'll never see what's in front of you.