ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

The Writing Process: Writing a Book Chronologically Versus Out of Order

Updated on October 25, 2015
Source

Writing a Book Chronologically Versus Out of Order

How do you start to write a book? Is there any right way to do it? Does anyone who writes even need advice on this? After all, that is one of the many choices that writers make in their writing. I have heard so many methods from writers over the years. Some use outlines, others make notes first, and some write the entire book out of order. The greatest books in history were all written in different ways, with different tools, and at different times. I have personally written two books and am working on my third, and my writing process has differed with each book.

Writing Chronologically

My first book was written entirely in order. This is mainly due to the fact that it started as a short story for a writing class that I took in college, and my teacher convinced me to turn it into a novel. So, the six pages I had written seemed like the best place to start, and I just continued from there.

For the first three months that I spent at home between graduating from college and landing my first job, I worked on turning my short story into a complete, middle grade novel. It was nice to have several hours a day dedicated to writing. I felt like Stephen King (more like pre-Carrie Stephen King - without the wealth and fame). The best part of the writing process (to me) is jotting down that first draft.

I believe that my time off inspired me to write the book chronologically. With a clear head to worry only about writing and job hunting, I was finally happy to have a large project to work on. Continuing with one large story idea kept what some writers consider the "imaginary condition" of writer's block away. I was often several scenes ahead in my mind, and this kept me focused, typing my entire first draft at my parents’ kitchen table and completing between three and 10 pages per day.

Editing

By the time I found a job, I had most of the first draft done. However, those 40 hours a week that I spent at work really slowed my progress at that point and heavily influenced my editing process. Feeling like I would go cross-eyed editing on the computer, I printed out my entire draft and made my edits teacher-style with a red pen, editing on nights and weekends. I rewrote entire paragraphs by hand and circled spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Then, I’d go through my marked-up manuscript and make my corrections on the computer, one page at a time. This was probably the least-fun part of the writing process, but it kept my writing on track.

I repeated this editing method several times until I was sure that I had caught every mistake and tightened every sentence. Needless to say, it took me a few years to edit the entire book. I must have gone through it at least 10 times, and even now that it has been published, I still find a line here and there that I think I should alter. At the same time, I was afraid of having to come up with a new project, whether it be a new novel, short story, or poem. This fear kept me in the editing mode for a long time. I think this was ultimately beneficial to the book as I caught more errors and strengthened my writing skills with every edit.


Editing by hand.
Editing by hand. | Source

Writing Out of Order

Some writers say that they can’t write a story if they know the ending. Others say the opposite. In my case, I need to know at least a few of the major plot points going in so that I have a few dots to connect. If I already know the ending, I need to know how I’m going to fill in the details down the line. At the same time, I always allow room for changes, even if it requires me to start all over. If a new idea is better, I say go with it, no matter how far along you are with the old idea, and if there is a better alternative, you probably won’t get too far before you realize that you have to turn around and start over. The faster you recognize that you’re lost, the easier it will be to turn off into another direction.

Knowing When to Start Over

My second book originally began as a novel for adults that I reworked into a middle grade story. Using the original story as a kind of backstory, I switched protagonists from the older sister to the younger brother and took off. This helped me to build my world and make it more authentic in my own mind. After all, how does a writer sell a universe that doesn’t exist without being able to visualize it in their own head first? My point, though, is that I could have missed out on the story that eventually became my novel if I had stuck to my original plan, which was going nowhere.

I hand wrote my second book on nights, weekends and lunch breaks. Knowing that my time was limited with my full time job and making my way as an adult in the world, I had to keep myself interested if I wanted to finish it. I would jot down whatever scenes came to mind, building the plot around the characters instead of worrying about how to get through those introductory chapters. I would write a scene at the end of the book one day and a scene at the beginning another. Somehow, these scenes just kept coming to me at a slow, even pace. I avoided writer’s block yet again and gratefully snatched up the ideas as they came to me slowly and consistently.

Assembling the Puzzle

Once the frame of the story was worked out, these scattered scenes became a giant crossword puzzle that I had to put together. Typing up my handwritten pages proved difficult. I was constantly scanning the Word Document for the best place to insert each scene. Continuity was a huge obstacle in the editing process, and I lost a good 10 pages to it (which I realize is minuscule compared to some writers’ throwaway scenes). Once finished, a lot of my edits were done right on the computer with maybe one run through with a hard copy and the dreaded red pen. In the end, it was a time consuming process, but maybe because of, if not in spite of, it, I think it’s a better book.

Combining Methods

My latest book is being written in a combination of both methods. I am writing it in order like the first book, but I’m also handwriting the pages during the week and typing them up on the weekends, just as I did with my second book. It’s like writing the book twice in a way, but in typing it up, I’m also editing as I go. The continuity errors should be minimal as well.

Trust Your Own Judgement

Despite improving my writing and editing methods in writing my third book, it’s hard to say if my fourth book will be written the same way. Many factors dictate the writing process: time, mood, technology, education. We writers are an indecisive bunch despite the decision-making skills required in our line of work. In the end, my advice is to do what’s best for you in your situation and with your skill set. Whether it works or not, if you feel the urge to change your method, change it. Ultimately, it’s your time, it’s your story, and it’s your call.

Source

How have you written (or plan to write) your books?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Laura335 profile image
      Author

      Laura Smith 4 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      That's a good point. It just sucks when you have to edit for continuity. ha ha

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed reading about your different approaches here. Thanks for sharing. I enjoy the out-of-order approach simply because for me, life never seems like it's a straight line -- lots of remembering, rewriting what really happened, flashbacks, etc.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)