Writing In Order

Reading a novel, the action goes from he beginning to the end. Even when there are flashbacks, the novel seems like the writing in order is the way it works.

When writing a novel, the order isn’t so important. A friend was writing a memoir. She would remember this incident, that incident. She felt writing in order was how she should write the memoir, but was afraid she would forget these incidents if she didn’t write them down immediately.

How writers deal with this varies. Some use Post It notes or memoranda taped to a story board. I prefer to add them to the end of the so-called story outline and move them in when the story gets to that point.

writing in order doesn't always work
In the novel draft Mindy is in the middle of the storm. Lots is going on. But, in the real world, a storm went by. Mindy’s storm will end. What is it like to watch a storm clear off? After watching the storm clear, I had to write that scene even though it was long before the draft would get to that point.

Forgetting is a real danger. I tend to daydream a while just after waking up in the morning. My latest story runs through my head and I will think of some scene or a correction or addition to a scene already written. I get up, log onto my computer and write it down before doing any of the regular morning chores. Any time I don’t do this, it’s forgotten. I know I thought of something that feels important, but can’t remember it.

In writing this present novel tentatively called ‘Isolation’ (In truth, I have no ideas for a title yet.) there are a few days before the big storm, several days of the storm and more time after the storm has passed. A storm, a small one dropping almost no rain, blew through last night. While I was milking this morning, I watched the storm blow overhead. This was roughly the picture Mindy would see as the big storm ended.

In my draft Mindy is in the middle of the storm. Yet I want to have this scene as I now see it.

Forget writing in order. I prefaced the scene with a day count and wrote it. I’ll get to it in another few thousand words.