I released a couple of new indies in '19--both in the adult market: The Art of the Kiss and Sentimental Journey (Sentimental Journey is part of my ongoing Christmas at Ruby's series). Both were somewhat experimental. It's honestly what I love most about the indie world--being able to play and try new things, then take the material wide, to as many readers as possible, and find out what works, what doesn't, how I might improve, etc.

What both taught me is one of the most powerful lessons I've learned so far in writing: how to draft in a non-chronological way.

I used to think drafting a book out of order would result in the biggest pile of...well, mess. But it doesn't. At all. In fact, I'm finding it to be an easier way to draft (not a big fan of those first drafts at all), and I'm also finding it to be the quickest way to get to a finished product.

I do think (for me, at least) writing out of order works the best when I begin by outlining. In fact, I've heard plenty of other writers who claim their outline is  the first draft--which is a truly fantastic way to think of it.

Then, once the outline is done...

The fun begins.

Believe me. I've never said that about a first draft before.

I just start in. What's the chapter or section that interests me the most? It does not in any way matter what point of the story it is. I just write one scene. Then another, which may or may not be connected directly to the events of the first. I write all the most important passages. The turning points. What intrigues me. What makes my fingers itch. What's driving me to the keyboard. What I think will be the first chapter. The last.

During this kind of drafting, I feel like I have the ability to play. When things pop up, as they always do during a draft, I feel like I have the ability to stray from the story for a moment and draft a scene of nothing more than a what-if. What I discover during that straying session might be profound--might make me re-outline a whole portion of the book. Or, it might be something I trash, except for a few poetic lines I like enough to incorporate into other scenes. But I feel like it gives me the room to follow threads I might have felt obligated to ignore when drafting in a more chronological format.

It leads, in my opinion, to a better book.

Also--this is something of a bonus point, but worth mentioning--when I was drafting chronologically, I often wrote unnecessary chapters, just trying to get to the next big scene. But when I write out of order, I tend not to write all those unnecessary sections. Which means I don't spend oodles of time composing chapters that I then have to spend time cutting back out when I'm in the midst of tightening the manuscript. So really, while writing out of order helps take the sting out of drafting, its benefits can also reach well into the revising process!

I'm using this out-of-order technique on all my books in 2020...well, all my new books.

**I'm also thrilled to announce that I'll be re-releasing my YA Playing Hurt and its sequel Play It Again this year! Playing Hurt has been given an update and has several new scenes...it will also release as a contemporary adult romance, rather than YA. Please subscribe to my Steamy Romance newsletter, for the official release date and other Playing Hurt news!


  1. I've never tried drafting out of order before, Holly. It sounds interesting!

    1. I'm tellin' ya...It's pretty awesome. Should have also added: I use Scrivener, which is a BIG help when I slide chapters around.

  2. I might have to try this myself. I'm working through an MG and realizing I've written a bit of "connective tissue" as well that needs to be struck. Great post, Holly! :)

    1. Do it do it do it... :) It really helps get to the core of a story.


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