Friday, July 5, 2019

Out of Order

By Rick Barry

There I was, driving down a highway, when a bolt of inspiration struck me. At that time, I had written the first half of my third novel. I knew my hero, World War II pilot Roger Greene, had been raised in an orphanage. But until that flash of insight, I’d had no clue how Roger was orphaned, or whether it even mattered.

Steering the car with one hand, I whipped out my cell phone with the other and speed-dialed a friend. 

“Hey, I just now found out what happened to Roger Greene’s parents!”

Long pause. Then, “Who in the world is Roger Greene?”

“He’s the hero in the suspense novel I’m writing. Remember? I told you about him.”

“Uh, okaaaaay...”

That response reminded me the world wouldn’t care about Roger Greene unless I finished the manuscript. Now I had a problem. The fate of Roger’s parents did matter to the story, but the ideal spot for that revelation would be the very last chapter of the book. I was fired up to write it. Yet… I was still at the book’s midpoint. I’d never written out of order before. The very idea seemed foreign, unorthodox.

Because those closing scenes kept playing in my mind like a movie, I bit the bullet and wrote the last chapter in a separate Word doc. The result? Having the soul-satisfying ending recorded injected fresh creative compulsion into my writing. When I returned to the midpoint, new enthusiasm helped me to keep slogging forward. Eventually I pasted in my final chapter. That published book is now history, and thousands of readers have enjoyed it.

In my current story, I’ve embraced the “out of order” principle multiple times. Because I wrote an eight-page synopsis in advance, I own a literary road map for my story. Certain scenes, like the first time the hero and heroine kiss, sometimes bubble to the surface of my brain and urge, “Don’t wait—write me now!” So I write them and set them aside until the point when I can copy and paste them in.

The point of this article? If you’re a writer, don’t lock yourself into a straight trajectory from Point A to Point Z. If Point M or S mystically appears in your mind, feel free to capture it in words now, while it’s vivid in your imagination. Odd though it may sound, capitalizing on a passage while it’s red hot just might add welcome adrenaline to your manuscript!
Rick Barry speaks Russian and has visited Eastern Europe over 50 times for Christian ministry. He leads an active life that has included mountain climbing, jumping out of airplanes, and even prowling deserted buildings in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Rick believes a wide variety of experience provides fuel for his fiction. He has over 200 published articles and short fiction to his credit, plus three published novels. His most recent novel is The Methuselah Project, by Kregel Books. Social Media: Author’s website and blog:  Facebook:  Twitter:

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