Write of Way #14 – Write Chronologically, damnit!
Stories are meant to be read chronologically, so they should be written as such!
And…there you have it: my argument for why stories should be written chronologically.
No? What do you mean it wasn’t? I should support my position with facts and anecdotes? What a ridiculous concept!
But, fine. I suppose I could do that. If you insist.
Ask a dozen authors the best way to write a story and you’ll likely get a dozen different answers (but let’s be real, if these people have chosen to be authors, can they really be trusted to make good decisions or give sound advice? I certainly wouldn’t trust an author!).
Some authors prefer to craft their stories non-chronologically. They write on a scene by scene basis, penning each as it pops up in their minds, undoubtedly delivered there by dark forces beyond our understanding. There’s probably a ritual involved, some blood magic, and then when it’s all said and done, these authors organize their scenes into the best order for their story. (That’s probably not a fair description of the process, but it’s more fun to imagine things that way.)
If you’re looking to learn how to write like this, then *Jedi hand wave* these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. If you’re looking for me to yell at you about the strengths of writing your story chronologically, then welcome! You’ve come to the right place.
Originally, I had a bullet point list of why I write chronologically. In penning this post, however, all the points sort of amalgamated into one. They say bullet-point lists are great for SEO and garnering clicks, but I left my corporate job in marketing for a reason. As such, here’s my pseudo-three-point-but-actually-only-one argument as to why writing chronologically will make you rich and famous is a good idea:
It’s fun and more enjoyable this way.
Okay, that’s an opinion, but if I say it like I know what I’m talking about that makes it like, half a fact, right?
Joking aside, I do actually have a ton of fun writing chronologically. Primarily, that’s because this method allows the characters and story to grow alongside one another in my mind as I write.
When starting out a new story, there’s a good chance I don’t know the characters very well. And, seeing as it’s a new story, I likely don’t know it very well, either. Sure, I have an outline of the upcoming events, and character arcs, and all the other nuts and bolts of a story, but that’s like having a table full of spare parts. You could build a car out of them, but right now, they’re just pieces. Far from a finished product, much less a living story.
Writing the story in order allows me to experience it alongside the characters. As such, there’s room for unplanned twists and turns to happen, and room for me (and my characters) to react to these organically.
I know where the story is going but not the exact route it’s going to take to get there. That means there’s plenty of opportunity to surprise myself. Some of my best writing has come from things I didn’t plan but that developed naturally as a result of the story and characters interacting.
When writing out of order, I find I’m operating with a much more complete understanding of the characters and events. I prefer to withhold this more complete understanding in favor of the elements of randomness that develop from not having every little detail mapped out. In a way, I feel that mimics real life.
Real life isn’t planned out. Our stories all have an end point, but we’re not going to get to it in a perfect three act structure with just the right number of pinch points and rising or falling action.
I write chronologically to mimic this in my stories.
Should you do the same?
Well, that’s a tough one. Unfortunately, as with literally everything when it comes to writing, there are no hard and fast rules. The best thing you can do is experiment and find out what works best for you.
Write chronologically, or don’t. In the end, what works best for you is what’s right.