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Shuffling Scenes and the Editing Process

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Whoa, it’s been two months since my last post. Sorry about that. I’ve basically been face deep in my novel. Which is nearing the end of the second draft. After which point it’s off to my beta readers. For now, I want to talk about something I’ve always had a hard time wrapping my head around.

Shuffling scenes. Also known as moving scenes.

Over the years I’ve researched how other authors go about writing. What methods do they use? How do they structure their scenes? On several I read that they like to write scenes as they think of them, completely out of context. Then just move them around later. Scene 32 may be better as scene 21 because it supports scene 27. I have one response to that.


That blows my mind. How can you write a scene without knowing or having written the previous scenes? They build on one another. Inform one another. What happens in scene 12 should impact the rest of the book. So if you write scene 16 first, be ready to make some serious revisions. And how can you move a later scene up when it should rely on everything that came before? Time for more rewrites!

Obviously it works for some people. They have no problems. It’s just that when I see that, all I see are all the major revisions ahead of the author. *shudder*

Save yourself some time, plan your scenes first. Or be prepared with a hatchet, fire, and glue for your editing!



  1. Jenn Lyons says:

    I got nothing. I can’t remove my scenes from context. Every character is there because of casual events, knowing certain facts, and that informs their actions. I don’t understand how you could remove that context and still have anything like a coherent story.

    Madness, I tell you! Madness!

  2. I’m with you, Jeff. Although, maybe these people who can do this outline so well that they don’t have the “12/16” problem you mention. *shrugs*

    If I tried to do this, I’d end up with a hopeless muddle. Kind of…like what I already have. Hm. Bad example. 🙂

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