I am writing a fictional novel. I have just begun and had my daughter read what I had written up until now, her reply was it is very good, but she feels I am jumping all over the place. Any comments appreciated.

  • Possibly related: writing.stackexchange.com/q/41364/14704 Feb 11, 2019 at 19:49
  • While I think Dawn's issues may be of a similar sort, judging by the original version of this question, I feel the answers here are more targetted to this case. It's difficult to tell without a significant writing sample - though it's really not my place to determine that; rather, it's Dawn's. But it feels to me like there are many versions of this issue, and no single question will ever cover even a quarter of the domain - unless it's written by melding several others together.
    – Ed Grimm
    Feb 12, 2019 at 1:12
  • Thankyou,...I have read over my script and I do feel the issue is going forward and going back will correct my issues.Great site and I appreciate your time...Dawn
    – Dawn
    Feb 13, 2019 at 22:54

3 Answers 3


When we write things forwards, we also write them backwards

When you stagger into your apartment, still shaking from the shock, rain dripping from your coat, and your daughter looks up and asks what's wrong, you're already rehearsing the story of minor fender-bender. You explain that when you slammed on the brakes, sliding on the wet roads and getting into a fender-bender, it was actually a miracle. You barely avoided that semi which had just jack-knifed in front of you!

The probable cause of someone saying that your writing jumps around is that there is a feeling that you weren't sure where an idea was taking you until you got there.

Now, if you look up at the two paragraphs above, we just jumped from a disaster to a dry remark about writing. However, they are both thematically bound together by the idea of composing an idea for someone else to understand.

Writing, first and foremost, is riffing on a theme

Obviously, you're making things up when you write fiction, or when you write most anything. At least, you're choosing words and punctuating in the moment. But you are not making everything up out of nothing. Even seat-of-the-pants writers likely have some notion or skeleton forming in their mind before the particular sentences or paragraphs they are currently composing are molded onto that rough frame. And, usually, there isn't really a focus on bridging between individual sentences, or paragraph breaks. You put in a period because you finished saying something. (Not necessarily even a whole idea - but something.)

You put in a new paragraph for emphasis, maybe, or to give visual variety to a wall of text - or hopefully because you completed a larger thought. That might not have been the best place for a paragraph break, come to think of it. But all the smaller thoughts have to flow together into a bigger thought. That is, you start writing towards a destination. A chapter or scene in a novel needs to be logical - to go 'from here to there.' And that destination moves backwards, becoming clearer, meeting you near the end, or someplace before that. Then the whole piece will have coherence, even if you jumped from a car accident to a reflection on narrative unity. In your mind you've written backwards to meet the beginning, as on the paper you wrote forwards.

At least, that's how I write.

(And then I go back to edit for clarity, and to make sure there aren't any weird gaps in my thinking. You shouldn't skip the editing part.)

  • 1
    Thankyou, I can relate, sounds exactly what have been doing.
    – Dawn
    Feb 13, 2019 at 1:22

From Open Polytechnic:

Connect words, sentences and paragraphs. Show the relationship between ideas. Indicate the order of things and their relative importance. Indicate when something new is coming. Signal to readers how an idea fits in and where it's going. Introduce a summary or a conclusion.

I would add that you should seek out many opinions and specific advice from people to illustrate in what ways your writing is not flowing, and their specific suggestions on how to fix it. From the information you've currently provided, it's virtually impossible to tell you why your writing doesn't flow, so I would recommend adding an example from your own writing if you're comfortable with that.

Finally, the best way to improve any aspect of your writing is to read others' writing, so find a book or author whose prose flows nicely in your opinion, and try employing similar strategies in your own writing. Practice makes perfect!

  • I have added an example for you all to review.
    – Dawn
    Feb 13, 2019 at 14:26
  • example:My mother eagerly entered the hallway with a cheerful smile, I could see the sparkle light up in her eyes as she proceeded to the doorway to welcome my Father home . It has been almost a week ,but it feels like months and my Father has finally returned home from a visit to my grandmothers on the Isle of Mull...With laughter I stand at the door to meet him. With a sigh of releif ,I welcome him home with open arms.
    – Dawn
    Feb 13, 2019 at 14:30

I read mine aloud; the eye can be fooled more easily. Find a quiet moment and read your piece. The flaws and roughness will become apparent and you move in, add a few words and move on.

Read it again, if it flows now you can enjoy the feeling and move on.

I am a discovery writer and my work began with a deep knowledge of three people. I began writing and those people kept meeting others and doing things. I have nearly 300k words.

I jump to other scenes, different locations and different people, but all are connected to one of the earlier characters. Some seek his help, others wish to help him, still others hunt him.

Understand your characters and where you think the story will go. Chances are, it will take a left turn that surprises you. If you know your characters, what they mean to each other - even if these details never make it into your work, they will shape it.

What I know about my people colours how I write each scene. Even though it might appear disjointed, all is connected and it flows.

When I am unsure, I read the passage aloud and the problem leaps up and announces itself. I either delete a few words or add a phrase - whichever it calls for.

  • Thankyou for your help, it all makes sense.I will take your advice...
    – Dawn
    Feb 13, 2019 at 1:28
  • @Dawn My pleasure
    – Rasdashan
    Feb 13, 2019 at 1:45

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