Posted by: Caitlynn | June 15, 2010

Changing It Up

Question:  when working on a longer piece of fiction — such as a novel — do you write straight through it, from “Chapter One” through “The End,” or do you have a tendency to write scenes out of order?

I usually write things straight through. My mind organizes things in such a way that one detail builds on another, eventually forming (ideally) a cohesive whole. I make use of outlines and stick to them, not necessarily down to the last detail, but at least with a fair amount of accuracy. To this day, that’s how my lengthier projects have always been managed. And, while they’re all early drafts and definitely flawed, 2 out 3 are actually relatively decent. So this process seems to work for me.

Or, at least, it usually does.

Right now, however, I find myself struggling with my current WiP, and I’m beginning to wonder if it would help me to write a few of the scenes out of order. I’ve gotten through the first chapter, and I’m satisfied with it enough for the time being to let it rest, but nothing I do for the chapter immediately following it seems to work. I have a few basic plot points I know I want to hit, and essentially, next to no idea of how to connect them. Might it help, then, to create those points, see them in print, and figure out how to link them together later? Would something like that even work?

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. How often do you keep things in crisp, clean order as you write, and how often do you allow your imagination to run with whatever scene it feels like at a given moment?



  1. I’m similar to you; I like writing things in order. It’s hard for me not to do that. I used to write super detailed outlines but then the story nearly always veered off from that so now I just right basic ones.

    I think you should try writing it out of order if you’re at a point where you’re stuck. Of course I should follow my own advice, as I’m in the same place now…I think I shall have to skip over it and continue onward and come back to it later.

    • My super detailed outlines usually change, too. But even when they change, it’s never been so drastic that it doesn’t at least look similar. Then again, I’m not sure…your idea of “super detailed” and mine might be a bit different, when you take into account that you’re the sort of writer who always has to cut things out, whereas I’m the sort who always needs to go back in and say, “Okay, now what else can I add to increase my word count?”

  2. Also sister, you ought to go and comment on blogs more often. I have lots of links on my page (as I’m sure you’ve noticed). It can be quite an addiction….

    • Yes, yes…I know I need to comment on other blogs more. I’ll get around to it. Soon. 😛

  3. I have the opposite issue: I usually write out-of-order, and now I’m trying to create an outline, and write it in order. I think becoming strong in the writing technique that’s outside your comfort level can actually work to strengthen the method you usually use.

    Writing out of order is useful because you always write a scene as it inspires you – but it’s difficult to tie it all together. Not impossible, but difficult. If you CAN tie it all together, I think the story comes out quite energetic. You can create new threads you might not have considered by writing ‘in order.’

    Try brainstorming on a different page, but continuing the story in order. That might help?

    – Corra

    The Victorian Heroine

    • That might be a good approach to take, actually. I usually end up thinking of things I want to happen later on, but don’t write those ideas down because “I’m not there yet.” Then, by the time I get there, I can never seem to get the ideas down quite right.

      So, maybe I’ll try brainstorming and writing things down on another page to use later. It probably couldn’t hurt. 🙂

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