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Can You Write Out Of Order?

Whether you’ve got an outline or not, can you write out of order, a scene here, a scene there?
The short answer is…YES!

However you write, whatever your process is, you can do it.
It’s your process, after all.
And your process will change from book to book.

Watch the video or read the transcript below to find out how to make it work for you.


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There are different points on the spectrum of writing out of order.
From a scene popping into your head, you have just the right words but you’re not at that part yet. Go and write it down, leave it on the manuscript and then you can fill in the gaps.

On the other end of the spectrum is writing completely out of order, so you might write the ending, then the beginning and then random middle scenes before doing a jigsaw puzzle to put it all together and get it in order.

There are pros and cons for each way of doing this, as with everything.

If you think quite linearly then write straight from the beginning to the end, if that works for you.
If you have scenes that come to you randomly in the shower (which always happens to me) or when you’re out with the dog and a scene, word for word, comes to you and you end up rushing home, then write them as they come to you.

I recommend avoiding writing them on a different piece of paper or document in the hope of copying and pasting them over, because you will forget about them.
Instead, write the scenes or dialogue into your manuscript document, then go back to where you were further up the document and carry on writing until you get to that random scene.
Then, you can edit that random scene so that it fits in before carrying on with what happens next.

I also do this if I’m going to be rewriting something. I will take bits and pieces from the old manuscript, paste them into a new document and then write around them, editing them when I reach them so that they make sense.

On the other side of the scale, you can write a random chapter because you’re really excited to write it and it’s playing on your mind. Go write that one first!
If you have another scene perfect in your head but not connected, it’s okay to go and write that one next.

Then, you can move them around to put them into the right order.

One of the benefits of writing completely out of order is that you then have the freedom to mix and match, and move things around to see where things could go, where they might fit and how it changes the story.

One of the disadvantages of this (other than the heavy editing required) is that you will then have gaps. So, once you’ve arranged your pieces into an order, you’ll have to go back and fill in the gaps.

I’ve never written completely out of order like that, but I would imagine there would be some pretty hefty plot holes that would spring up, so that’s something to be aware of and keep an eye out for.
You might want to create an outline as you’re putting the scenes in order if you don’t start off with one, so you can see where the gaps are and how to fill them.

Otherwise, that’s what editing is for.

Whatever helps you to finish that first draft, that’s the way to go.
If writing out of order means that you finish your first draft quickly, with passion and it’s not a struggle for you, then that’s what you should do.
The rest will come with the editing stage.

If writing from beginning to end works for you, and maybe every now and then writing a random scene as it comes to you, then great.

Experiment and see what works for you.
Remember, your process will differ from book to book, depending on the story you’re telling and where you are in life.
For example, if you’re going through a stressful or tiring time and you’re really excited by this middle chapter but you haven’t written the beginning yet, then write the chapter that excites you first.
This will motivate and gear you up to write the rest of your book.

If you’re feeling in a rut, then experiment and try something different. See what works for you and your story in that moment.

Before you know it, you’ll have your first draft.

Don’t judge yourself if you’re struggling with your outline or where to start. Remember, there is no right or wrong.

Can You Write Your Book Out Of Order?