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Sunday, March 02, 2014

Out of Order

by Marcia Lee Laycock
I’m what they call a “seat of the pants” writer. That means I don’t sit down and concoct a lengthy outline and figure out my story from beginning to end. I just dive in and write, figuring it out as I go. I find this style invigorating. I never know what might happen in the next paragraph.

The story usually comes to me in scenes - I’ll be happily spinning my tale when, pop, here comes another scene that might not necessarily be next in the plot. I stop and put these “out of the blue” scenes into a separate file and add them in later. That works. Most of the time. But there is a down side to writing this way. Sometimes things get mixed up. Sometimes things are out of order. And sometimes I end up in an editing nightmare.

Like the other day, when I was working on the second book of my fantasy series and had the nagging feeling that something was out of order. So I painstakingly did a chapter by chapter outline and found a couple of things that had to be moved. A character can’t suddenly be talking to someone she meets two chapters later. The villain can’t put his schemes into action until he’s given the information he needs in order to carry them out. Those kinds of mistakes are a little annoying to our readers! That’s why a structural edit is crucial for writers like me. And that pertains not just to my work, but to my life.

Sometimes our lives can be out of order. We start the day in a rush and forget to even breathe a “good morning, Lord,” before diving into our schedule. We’re half way through the day before we realize something isn’t right. Maybe we’re a bit snappy with colleagues or our family members. Maybe we just feel a little ‘off.’ And then there are those days when things just go all wrong, things happen that don’t make any sense at all and often they are difficult or even painful.

That’s when it’s time to do a structural edit of our lives and put things in the right order; that’s when we need to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). And that’s when we can take great comfort in knowing that there is a Sovereign over it all, an Author, who knows the beginning and the end, and every single detail of the plot of our lives. He has made sure that all is in order, even when it seems in chaos.

Hebrews 12:2, says – “I desire to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

That’s the right order – scene number one - focus on Jesus.

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife, mother of three adult daughters and care-giver to two golden retreivers. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards. Marcia also has two devotional books in print as well as two ebooks. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon.


  1. I'm always so glad to see someone else with the same writing style. I see things in scenes, too and sometimes write scenes then decide where they go. Outlines are cumbersome.

    Great advice for when our life is "out of order" too. Thanks Marcia.

    1. You are most welcome, Martha. Glad to "meet" someone of like mind too. ;) m

    2. I share your writing style also Marcia and have often felt like I shouldn't be writing this way but it just comes out best that way. And for quite awhile things have been 'out of sorts' in my life and I can't figure out which way is up most days...thanks for this reminder. It was very well said!

  2. How right you are, Marcia. Thanks for the encouraging and thought-provoking words.


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