author, creative writing, writing

Writing Your Novel Out of Order…

…does it work?

Hello everyone, happy Sunday to you!

As I am nearing the end of my first draft (eeek, I think I am anyway!) I have been thinking a lot recently about the unusual way I approached my writing this time.

I have written novel length stories in the past and always forced myself to write exactly in order, one chapter after the other. I mean, that’s the logical approach, right? Yet this time, I haven’t stuck quite so closely to that rule. I don’t just mean I’ve been writing down ideas for later chapters as I go, because that’s advised anyway, whatever your process. I mean actively, fairly often, writing completely out of order to get the story told.

I’d like to share with you the main reasons why this has worked for me, and perhaps some of these are things you’ll try yourself.

1. Writing the chapter you’re excited about
When I get excited about future chapters, it’s a great feeling. I don’t think it’s uncommon for writers to make the most of these inspirations and dedicate some time to these chapters, even if they’re completely out of order within the story. I completely do this too. When you’re in a writing slump it can be a breath of fresh air to feel passionate about your story again and having moments like that are essential to keeping you motivated.

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2. Writing different POVs separately
Last week on the blog I talked about writing with multiple perspectives and I’m still really intrigued as to how different writers approach this. When I started writing my current WIP I was writing chapter to chapter, flitting between perspectives in the order I wanted for the finished piece. But I soon found it hard to focus on the characters as individuals and keep their voices distinct. So I broke it up. I wrote the whole story, minus the last few chapters, from one character’s POV and have since gone back to write the other character’s perspectives from the beginning. For some reason this has worked for me so much better, even though my story is a muddled mess and I’ll need a lot of planning and re-organising time when it comes to the second draft.

3. Leaving open gaps
I’m sure, like me, you’ve been in a situation where you just can’t work out what comes next. What chapter, what sentence, what word? I’ve spent too long leaving my novel at a stand still because I simply couldn’t work out what to put next. Not anymore! Now, I just leave it and move on to the next chapter that I do know about. What I find is, as I move onto the next part of the story that I am certain about, the gaps fill themselves. The ideas flow because I’m still writing, rather than nursing my writer’s block for days. It means having to write out of order fairly often, but as long as all the gaps are filled eventually, who cares? That’s what editing’s for anyway!

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you write strictly chapter to chapter or do you throw order out the window if you need to? Comment below and let me know!

Anyway, I have to go to work now…boo!
But have a great day
Keep writing
M
x

30 thoughts on “Writing Your Novel Out of Order…”

  1. Thank you for Liking a number of my posts lately. It means a lot to know that someone enjoys my writing.

    I haven’t been able to write anything novel-length yet. I haven’t found a novel-length idea for a story yet, and I suck at writing descriptions.

    For now, I just have my 10-word stories and poems, a short story, and a screenplay.

    But thank you for this advice though. Two friends of mine are writing novels, and I’ll pass on this advice to them.

    Thank you for sharing your journey as a writer, too. I love your blog.

    Have a good day at work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi and thank you! Yes, I do enjoy your posts, it’s a pleasure to be following your account 🙂
      10 word stories can be just as powerful as full novels I believe ❤ It's good that you're writing what you want to write, and it all sounds really interesting.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, have a wonderful day xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I took a non-linear approach to mine, and I’m happy with the results on the whole. At one stage early on I wrote what I envisaged as the end scene and then wrote towards it. Great tips as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, love that idea of writing the ending first. It’s good to know what your heading towards. Did you find that your ending changed at all as the plot progressed? Or has your ending remained solid so far? 🙂

      Thanks for reading xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a shameless pantser so had no problem doing this. And actually found it liberating. As time went I would write whatever scene that came to me naturally rather than agonising over the next if I didn’t ‘feel’ it. It was like scattering dots and trying to connect them as I wrote. The ending changed completely as I progressed! I realised what was the original ending worked better at the start. I just rejigged the order and carried on knowing I could redraft later. Might not be orthodox, but it worked for me. 🙂 Good luck with yours.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. When finishing my drafts, I actually decided to put in a different perspective (or completely new bunch of characters whose story sort of runs parallel to my first) and I wrote them both separately and found it so much easier, and more fun because I wasn’t worrying about how they would slot together so much!
    I’ve tried getting in to the same way in my second book, but there’s a few more perspectives, and sometimes, when I look at the file documents, I
    I think writing out of order is the best thing to do, especially when there’s parts of the story you don’t feel inspired to write, or don’t know what to write!
    Another great post!! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this post! I’m fairly early on in my novel (currently working on the first chapter) so I have been writing everything in order, but I can imagine hitting roadblocks down the line where your tips will be really helpful. I like the idea of writing out the scene or chapter that you feel most passionate about in the moment- I’ve been jotting down snippets of dialogue between my protagonists to save for later but maybe a cool experiment would be sitting down and actually writing out those scenes. Anyway, thanks for your helpful suggestions and good luck finishing the draft!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to read, comment and share your experience. I want to wish you the best of luck with your story, and if any of these tips do help then that’ll be awesome 🙂 Keep us updated on your novel, and I will too. Thank you for your kind words ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I usually write in order, but I also do some of what you’ve mentioned here. If it’s not working, or I don’t know how to end a chapter, I’ll move onto the next and rework the trouble spot in the next draft. As for skipping to writing a favorite chapter or scene, I usually use that upcoming scene as motivation to work more quickly through the ones before it. For me, writing out of sequence would be confusing, but I can understand how it might work for others, and I’m glad to hear that it’s working for you. Do whatever it takes to get the words down, and good luck with the rest of your first draft!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 It’s going quite well, although now I’m in those final few chapters I’m back in order.
      I like the idea of using the excitement to write a certain scene to motivate you through the bits leading up to it 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Intersting post. My manuscript is a little all. over the place, but is slowly coming together. I find the Scrivener software is perfect for this writing approach.
    When I started writing a couple of years ago my children were in the thick of learning stories must be planned and written in the ‘beginning, middle, end’ style – no room whatsoever for thinking outside the box – say, starting with the ending. I guess they’ve got to start somewhere, but I keep hearing myself say to them, ‘in the real world, not all writers work that way.’ It was ingrained in me until recently that you had to write a story in the order it happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post.
    I have not fully tried writing out of order. I do outline future scenes so I know what I want to happen, but can’t seem to break out of chronological order.
    It works though. The scenes I usually do outline are ones that I’m excited to write, which serves as motivation to get through the preceding scenes first.
    Thanks for giving me a bit of food for thought. ❤
    Happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting 🙂
      It’s an odd process, one I’m bound to regret come edit time! I think it works in terms of getting the story told and finished (for me anyway) but how it’ll fair up as a method I continue to use I’m not sure!
      Hope you’re writing is going well too ❤

      Like

      1. I know many people who write out of order, besides, we are all mad here! 😁
        As you ask, writing is going well! Reading your post last night rallied my muse and we got to work! Exited where my story is going and even more excited to finish this first draft. I’m about a little over a quarter of the way there.
        Hope you are doing just as well, or better!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Me thinks your blog will probably be my life saver during NaNoWriMo this year!

    For years, whenever I’d go to write my stories (the fuller, longer novels anyway), I’d always write everything in order. I’m starting to think that writing out of order may be better for me, and I think this post cemented this fact. I always write faster and with more passion when I’m working on a chapter or part of the story that gets me excited.

    As for POVs, this was always another thing that I always did when I was a lot younger. I’d switch just because I was bored writing in one POV. Didn’t mean that I did a good job, though. I never had clean character voices leading the chapters and because of that you could almost never tell which character was talking. (._.) Sometimes I think that people could almost blackmail me if they had my old manuscripts. LOL.

    I’ll definitely be around more. You got yourself another follower! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree completely. I rarely write longer stories start to finish. Writing the parts that you absolutely know, and placing them in order in your document, helps you see what else needs to happen to get there. You may get stumped on ‘what do I write next’, but when you know where the story is going you can ask yourself what is needed and that may spark the ideas you need. Sometimes writing ahead does have a slight pitfall in that your direction may alter somewhat – then you have to do some editing to make the pieces fit together.

    Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Gah! This is the only way I can write! I’ve got to write about what’s exciting me–or push past what you can a gap–when I’m in the right moods to do so. I also find that when I write out of order it keeps the project moving along more quickly. I don’t think I could ever work chronologically! Thanks for sharing! –Whitney

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Writing the POVs seperately is what I did for my most recent novel, and like you, I left off the ending chapters (since I knew all of those would have to tie in together much more cohesively. Of course, that got a bit out of whack when I realized that I might need a whole ‘nother book before those chapters, but the process was similar. Sometimes I write out of sequence, sometimes I don’t. It depends on the novel. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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