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Sunday, June 26, 2016

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. Exactly! That's why I always begin my day by reading from my Bible. It sets the tone for the rest of the day and gives me the strength to tackle any bumps that come my way.

  2. I am so glad to read that you, like myself, are a seat-of-the-pants writer! Pangs of being unprofessional and inadequate because of my writing style have hounded me. I learned to recognize it as storytelling through the Holy Spirit's unction. I've tried (forced myself) to do the outline and preparatory things I've read that I should do but it doesn't work for me. Can't pre-plan too much of the stories I write. I get a character or two and a loose singular scene and from there the story writes itself with plot, twists and turns. Yes, I can get twisted up if I'm not on top of it but generally this method works for me. I shouldn't be surprised that my writing style is not the norm or even preferred method because as with most things in my life I have always been outside the box, not the norm or different. I've learned to embrace that too...God made me that way for His purpose.

  3. Yes. Great reminder. When God's at the top of our priority list everything else falls neatly into place. Well, maybe not always "neatly" from our perspective looking at the underside of the Grand Weaving
    . But from the top of the weaving it is.


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