This writing tip will take about two minutes of your time.

Ready?

See how I have to pad this post with a vain attempt at anticipation, just because this tip is so easy?

Write your sentences in chronological order.

Wait, that’s it?

No, I don’t mean write sentences in order–though that’s a goood idea too. I mean, in a sentence with two related events, write those events in order of occurence.

She screamed after someone knocked on the door.

Instead use:

Someone knocked on the door, and she screamed.
She blushed when he smiled at her.

Instead use:

He smiled at her, and she blushed.
She kicked the alien after it stuck its tongue out at her.

Instead use:

The alien stuck its tongue out at her. She kicked the closest of its eight shins.

Why?

Readers tend to visualize scenes in their head as they go along. While there’s nothing grammatically wrong with writing a sentence out of order, it causes a subtle, yet annoying, thing to happen. The reader briefly rewinds that moment and plays it out in the order it happened. These few seconds have jarred the reader from the story.

Like all writing tips, there are exceptions to the “rule”. However, unless you have a justification for confusing the order, try implementing this concept and see what happens. It is especially useful when handling complex or fast paced scenes.

Do you find yourself writing sentences out of order? Do you have an example of when it’s better to do so?