When you read a story, you typically start at the beginning, continue through the middle, and then finish with the end. But does that mean you have to write a story, novel, or memoir in that same order? It might seem odd or messy to write out of sequence, but the experts at Writer’s Relief know there are benefits to creating scenes out of order—and also one caveat. Here’s why you might want to write scenes out of sequence.
Write Your Scenes Out Of Sequence: The Benefits
You won’t lose a good idea. We’ve all had this happen: You’re working on one part of the story when suddenly, a great idea pops into your head for a section you’ve already written or one that’s ahead. Instead of jotting down a few notes and using that inspiration later, you can strike while the iron is hot. If you wait to write the scene later, you risk losing the excitement and spark you have at your fingertips now.
You’ll stay motivated. Don’t lose your enthusiasm by forcing yourself to write through a portion of your story, novel, or memoir that you’re not ready to write. By writing the scenes you’re most motivated about, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate or develop a case of writer’s block.
You can fine-tune transitions between scenes. Once you have your main scenes written, you can go back and create the transitions between scenes. It will be easier to refine the details because you already know what you’re transitioning from and to and how your scenes play out.
How To Write Scenes Out Of Order
Keep careful notes. If you’re going to create scenes out of sequence, it’s important to keep track of what you’ve written and what still needs to be written by using an outline or a spreadsheet. Having a good tracking system will help you notice any gaps or missing pieces in the narrative.
Write all scenes with similar moods or settings at the same time. Keep the atmosphere of specific scenes uniform by writing them all together. Writing action scenes, romantic scenes, or any other scenes that have similar energy at the same time can help make your story more cohesive, since it will be easier to keep the mood and atmosphere consistent.
For instance, the romantic banter between your protagonists will be consistently clever and charming if it’s all written while you’re mentally in that zone. And the claustrophobic atmosphere of the space station under attack in your action-packed sci-fi will remain tight and stable if you write all those scenes at the same time. Once you have all the comparable scenes written, you can switch gears and write any scenes that have different moods or locales.
Treat your story like a jigsaw puzzle. When you’re putting together a jigsaw puzzle, it’s nearly impossible to start in one corner and work your way out from that edge until it is complete. Instead, most people work on the puzzle section by section. You might put together all the blue pieces that make up the sky and gather the brown or green pieces into another pile to assemble for the ground. Or you may collect all the pieces with flat edges to create the puzzle’s framework. The puzzle starts filling in as you connect the various completed sections. If you see your story, novel, or memoir as a jigsaw puzzle, it’s easier to work on various out-of-sequence portions and then put these together to fill in the gaps and complete the picture—or story.
One Caveat About Writing Scenes Out Of Sequence…
When you write scenes out of order, it’s important to maintain cohesiveness! Be aware of what you’ve already written so you can sustain the continuity of your narrative and character development—you don’t want your story to become fragmented. Our best writing advice: Reread the scenes you’ve already written before writing a new one out of sequence.
Writing your scenes out of sequence can provide the spark that will help you communicate the story in a gripping way. It’s also a great way to work around writer’s block! And when your short story, novel, or memoir is completed, Writer’s Relief can help you pinpoint the best markets for your submission! Over 90 percent of our short story and poetry clients have been published with our help. Learn more about our services and submit your writing sample today!
Question: Have you tried writing out of sequence? How did it go?