Writing Myth: Start At The Beginning

Writing Myth Monday: Start At The Beginning

An outline is essential when trying to design a well structured story without losing track of characters or plot points. However, is it necessary to write your story in order to come up with a quality result?

Absolutely not.

Tim O’Mara says that he avoids writing block by writing out of sequence, and from my experience it can actually be enlightening to write pieces of your story at different times. In fact, writing the ending before the beginning can allow you to know where you are going with your story, giving you a strong foundation, helping you write faster and more intelligently.

Here are a handful of ways about how writing out of sequence can help your writing process:

  • Organization – Believe it or not, writing your story out of sequence allows you the luxury of knowing what is coming in the future. This allows you to see what is going to happen next and actually makes you more organized than structuring an outline from the beginning. The end of your story is often the most important part of your story and knowing what is going to happen at the end allows you the opportunity to see into the future and understand what motivations and scenes will occur before the resolution. This gives you the chance to understand the true meaning of your story and piece together everything before the end comes. It’s strange to think that jumping around will make you more organized, but it will.
  • Flow – Organization is the key here, but once again, knowing what will happen in the future will help connect the dots more than outlining in order ever will. Throwing in scenes and characters while you write helps cut out plot holes that you forget about and cleans up the editing process drastically.
  • Block writer’s block – Tim O’Mara says it best, but having the ability to write out of sequence gives you unlimited outlets to writing material. Write your ending, 5th, 12th or 20th chapter when it is on your mind and save time from sitting and staring at your computer. The next step is not always the next scene in your story.
  • The adventure – Just like in life, ideas come unexpectedly. Why wait to include new, exciting information, when it beckons to be told? Your story brings so much adventure to your life, so why not embrace that adventure?
  • The busy schedule – We all have busy schedules. I don’t have kids, but those with kids know the worst of it. School, work, friends, family and whatever activities you may partake in leave you no choice but to put your writing on hold sometimes. Why not cater to this livelihood and write your story as it comes to you.
  • Life is sporadic – Life is a wonderful, sporadic event and your story should be too. A quality story has ups and downs and can only be true when the chaos of life is accurately represented. Take your story from your life and put together the pieces to reveal a strong meaningful message.

What do you think about writing out of order?

See ya next time…

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About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Hello Joe. I agree with your point here. I like the phrasing “writing backwards and forwards” especially true for fiction, and I don’t mean simply editing/revising small bits of language. That is, you may be in the middle of a story, or at the end, and suddenly realize the beginning needs more detail, so you return, and there is more “unfolding” out of the subconscious mind. The unfolding story is not always a forward moving lineal development, as you indicate.

    • Hi PetronMB. You made a great point that writing out of order can be even more important with fiction. It’s an organic process requiring us to pull from various experiences in our lives, and rarely does this inspiration come nicely packed in order. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. πŸ˜€ Thanks for visiting my blog recently…. You’ve got a lot of good information on your site! Cool…

  3. Great post. I wrote the content for my novel with this approach by accident. It just felt natural. This looks like a good blog. Think i’ll hang around.

  4. Couldn’t agree more…there’s nothing as limiting as keeping in chronological order. People tend to chain themselves to routines…have to write in the right order, have to do it in a particular room, at a particular time, at particular temperature (okay that lasy one was me being a bit silly), when inspiration is all around them everyday and all they need is a pen and bit of paper to write down the ideas.

    BTW – this is an excellent site.

  5. I love writing out of order. Maybe I’ll be listening to the perfect song, or I just thought of a great new plot twist, but whatever the inspiration, sometimes you just need to go with the flow and write the part of the story that’s on your mind. Because it may not be there tomorrow :(

  6. Good post. Will take this in mind for the future.

  7. Donald Mac says:

    I definitely think some of this is true – I’m writing my novel in pieces as we speak. But from past experience with other stories I’ve written, I can definitely say that writing in sequence and letting the story take form along the way, not knowing exactly where you’ll end is part of the magic of creation. That being said, there are plenty of ways to go about the whole process, and the cleaning up of the editing and helping writer’s block are great benefits. Glad I stopped by this blog, I’m really enjoying it.

  8. feelingjoy says:

    Hi Joe. Thank you for visiting feelingjoy and liking my poem~voices. I enjoyed reading your post as well as your tips.

  9. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. I’m always looking out for fresh ideas for my writing, so getting to check out your tips is a treat! When it comes to fiction (a terrifying task for me), I tend to start at the end, and hop around from there. πŸ˜‰ I love Vonnegut’s idea that every writing rule is meant to be broken.

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. I haven’t yet experienced writer’s block, but I agree, writing out of sequence could be a helpful tool in this regard. I’m a pretty staunch outliner though, so I know to do so would ruffle my feathers a bit. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate it!

  11. thank you for stopping by and following my photography blog…writing doesn’t come easily to me so I’m thinking I will learn something helpful here!

  12. Hi Joe! Thanks for the follow, I love your blog and am always looking for different avenues to explore, change, and craft my work! I returned the flavor and can’t wait to see what we have in store for each other…:^D Jamy

  13. The one story I tried to write out of order, putting together scenes and chapters as I was inspired to, was a complete disaster. When I tried to assemble it nothing seemed to fit – the continuity from start to finish, the pacing, and the plot all were very askew. That could be because I didn’t have a solid outline to start with, but as I’ve never had much with outlining any of my writing before either I’m not sure that is completely to blame. One of these days I will try to do it again properly – start with an outline so I know where I’m starting and where I’m ending, and then see if I can write out of sequence as the words come to me.

  14. I find initially writing the story in order works best for me but the growing process of a story fills in chunks and pieces completely out of order after I have the rough draft. Great advice about writing what’s one your mind when it’s on your mind and not worrying about sequence. It works well against writers block, that’s for sure!

  15. ianprichard says:

    One of the things I like about this post – which seems to be a common thread amongst most of yours on this blog – is your love of life, your optimism, your encouragement to get out into the world we’re writing about, and your balanced approach to a writing life. It’s really refreshing. For so long, I was convinced that seriousness meant cynicism and fatalism and ennui. I’m so glad I broke out of that cycle and really enjoy what I’m doing, instead of forcing myself to be a slave to it.
    Thanks for the great reminders and some really useful tips. Best of luck.

  16. Cool blog! Thanks for visiting Being June and leading me here. I write fiction, too, and you give some great advice.

  17. Thank you for following my blog! I’m glad to have found yours as well. My extremely supportive husband bought me a book for Christmas about writing and that was one myth mentioned and busted. Now, I write whatever scene comes into my mind, or whatever the characters are talking to me about at the moment. It’s going so much better now!

  18. This was my approach when I wrote more fiction, and come to think of it, I still do this in my current non-fiction projects. I agree that writing what we want to write yields much higher productivity than trying to force ourselves to write something that just isn’t coming to us in that exact moment. Great post. :)

  19. Ashley Farley says:

    I’ve never given this much thought, but I think about my novel out of order, so why not write it out of order.

    Thanks for visiting my sight. Yours is pretty awesome. Hope you will join me in February for a Write-A-Thon

    • Hi Ashley, thanks for the kind words. What is your website again? It says the domain has moved when I click on your profile, and I can’t remember the exact address. I would love to try the Write-A-Thon!

  20. bethamania says:

    This is really good advice, especially for me. I have spent so much time trying to perfect the current scene or chapter, that I have missed some great ideas. After doing the NaNoWriMo challenge this past year, I realized that I don’t need to get everything on paper in order, I just need to get it all on paper. It still takes time, but sometimes skipping ahead to the next scene or part, or dropping a character off for a while and then coming back gets me out of those writing rutts.

  21. SirenaTales says:

    I agree. I’m a choreographer and liken writing to that creative process. My feeling is do whatever works for you since creativity is so highly idiosyncratic and one’s process should reflect that. Thanks also for the like. Cheers

  22. I go back and forth on whether I should write in sequence or not. Sometimes it works better for me to push on through from point A to B to C. Sometimes I can write A and C and figure out B later. Then again, sometimes I just can’t get from A to B and throwing in C doesn’t help. But then again, if my brain comes up with a good bit of writing point E, I’m not going to not write it just because I’m only at point B. But then again, sometimes when I’ve gotten through point D, I realize point E that I wrote earlier just won’t work, no matter how good it was at the time, or on its own. If point E doesn’t work in context, it just can’t stay.

    What I’m saying is that the Muses are cruel mistresses who constantly tease me with inspiration only to yank it away at the last minute, and attempting to circumvent their whims only works for so long.

  23. I have to write my stories in order. Sometimes I’ll have an image of a much later event for the story, but I can’t write it until I reach that part of the story. I’ve tried. I usually wind up coming up with very little. I’ve met many people, though, who swear they have to write things out of order, writing every scene as it comes to them.

    But I find I can’t articulate the scene until I have written the path that leads to that scene. It’s much easier for me to do that than to write out of order then try to connect the pieces later. Of course, if I do get a great idea for a later scene, I don’t ignore it. I write down the details that come to mind, a rough sketch, and I refer back to it if I need to later.

    I liked reading this. I find it interesting to see how people’s writing processes are different.

  24. Great post! I’m really going to have to try this out with my current outline. I’ve already committed myself to outlining each PoV completely before I start writing. I’ll have to employ this tactic for when I inevitably get stuck in the middle.

  25. I’m going to share this post with a friend of mine who’s struggling coming up with the motivation to write her novel. However, she makes herself do it chronological order. I think breaking that might help her. Thanks for posting!

  26. Just discovered your blog and loving it! I’ve always written out of order. If I didn’t, I’d never finish anything. Looking forward to more writing myth Mondays.

  27. Thanks for visiting my site. I have really enjoyed reading your posts.

  28. Thanks for visiting my blog. What you have written is generally good advice, however I think different writers work best in a method most comfortable to them. Although I skip around a lot, I do generally write from beginning to end. (It’s a block of swiss cheese in which I gradually fill the holes.)

    In contrast to some other writers, I find knowing the ending incredibly constricting. Yes, I have a rough idea, but it is the journey there that makes it work best for me. I’ve worked in a number of ways, but having it all mapped out in front of me causes me to write perfunctory chapters. For example, I skip two chapters, so I can write something that is eating at me. I continue on from there, but when I go back to fill the gap, that’s when writers’ block really hits. I know what I want, but I write two chapters of garbage. I’m bad at rewriting, so I need to get it nearly there on the first pass.

  29. VictoriaJoDean says:

    Intriguing idea – I find I do this in my journal and it helps me get to the main point better. Plus, I’ve working on a novel and am jumping from place to place and I think the threads pull together well in that way. Thanks for your insight.

  30. I envy your tech and layout skills, Joe. The clarity of your thinking is reflected in the clarity of your blog.

    More and more, once something is started (and it doesn’t have to be at the beginning, though often it is), I find it best to focus on thinking/feeling through a piece and let the story come naturally. Every piece is different, of course, but I’m a novelist at heart and this technique is steady and sure for me.

    Glad you like my blog. Onward.

  31. Great advice, it’s in sync with what another playwright (Katori Hall) suggested to get me started. I’ve only just started writing (thanks for following over at http://caribbeanbusinesstraveler.wordpress.com/) and I’d like to branch out into writing my own plays, as an actress this gives me more control over how much work I’d get. I often have good ideas but can never flesh them our from a-z, so this notion of writing out of order is quite freeing, thanks!