Don’t Write Out of Order

Envision your scene, and write in the sequence that it happens.  Do not write out of sequence.

Wrong:  John ducked, after hearing the shot

Right:  After hearing the shot, John ducked.

Wrong:  Angelina read the secret document, after stealing it from her boss.

Right:  After stealing the secret document from her boss, Angelina read it.

Okay, those are very simple examples, found in lots of text books.  Let me give you something more complicated to examine.  I came across these lines in an otherwise farely decent story.  In this story a couple are dancing:

“Wait!” said Billy, holding her hand as if it were a delicate butterfly.  “At least, tell me your name.”

“Susan,” she said, over her shoulder and pulled her hand free, as she scampered across the floor.

Did this scene make you pause?  Do you see the awkwardness of the sequence?  The couple is dancing; he asks a question, and she says her name over her shoulder…   Uh?  What?  What’s happening here?  Are they spoon dancing with her backside to him?  Maybe, it’s the Rumba or the Tango?  Then we find that he’s holding her hand, so I guess their doing the Rumba and he’s got his hands wrapped around her and is holding her hands in front of her belly.  Then she pulls her hand free and runs away—geeze, I hope he let go.

Well, I guess it could happen that way, but I don’t think the writer envisioned the scene that way.  Here’s another possible sequence:

“Wait!” Billy said, holding her hand as if it were a delicate butterfly.  “At least, tell me your name.”

She pulled her hand free and scamper away.  Billy thought he’d never see her again and then, at the last moment, she stopped, smiled back at him and whispered, “Susan.”


Sequence, people, sequence.  Write it the way it happened.  One-two-three.  See it, analyze it, and write it.

Happy Writing… You know, I’d blog more if I thought you were listening.  Whaha!

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Write Out of Order

  1. When you said don’t write out of order, I wasn’t sure what you meant. I often have to move things after I think I have the correct order, jst to achieve a more appropriate sequence…

  2. DO, I’ve never found any of your prose out of order. It is a sign of a logical mind. I, often, find other author’s works to be out of order. You know that moment when your reading something and there’s a stutter. You have to go back and read it again. Nine times out of ten, this turns out to be something that is not in the proper sequence.

    My ‘cheat sheets’ are probably too simplistic, but I do try to cut through the gobbledygook.

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