Sunday, May 22, 2011

Working Backwards

So, I recently discovered that in writing, I work best when I work backwards.

I started working on a story, and I started at the beginning, and I floundered (a LOT) trying to figure out where I was going to go with it. I wrote a few paragraphs and stopped. I wrote a few more, and then stopped. I stared at my screen. I surfed the internet. I tried to write a few paragraphs. I deleted everything I had written.

The next day, I was driving to work, talking to my husband on my phone, and breaking story with him.

"I just don't know what to do," I complained unhappily. "I don't know where to take it."

"What about this?" he suggested, giving me a plot idea.

"That's a really good idea!" I agreed enthusiastically, eager to get home and start writing. But that night, I wrote one page and stopped again. Unhappy, the next morning we were again on our way to work and I was once again complaining about my writer's block.

"I'm just not that excited about it," I complained. "I really like the plot and the idea, but I just... I'm just not sure what to do with it." I sighed. "I think I work best when I work backwards. Like with The Quest of Dai. I already knew how that was going to end. So I had the plot and the ending, and I just had to figure out how to get to the end with the plot I had in place."

And then I paused, staring out my windshield. "That's it," I breathed. "I just need to figure out the ending to my story!"

My husband laughed. "I'm pretty sure that's what you said the last time this happened, too," he teased.

"Shut up," I retorted. Then we went on working on the end of the story together.

That night, when I got home, I sat down at my computer and opened a Notepad, quickly typing out a couple of lines about how the story was going to end. Not a lot--just a few lines. (If I draft too much, I lose interest. It's as much of a discovery for me as the reader when I write.) Then I went to my Word doc and began writing with renewed zeal.

Does anyone else find it's easier to have the beginning and the end, and then fill in the middle? Or is it easiest to just start at the beginning and work your way toward the end? (Or are you one of those outliner-types? I really wish I could outline. Would save me a lot of re-writes later...)


Jasmine Aherne said...

I I am the total opposite. I get listless if I know how it will end! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi! I've read some of your work over on LJ and I was curious so I came to check out your blog (my LJ is ravella). I have been writing for a while now and I have like 8 unfinished stories because I get stuck and move on because I've never known how to get unstuck. Thanks to this wonderful post, I think I will try to see if I can know where a few of those stories might end, so maybe I can move forward again. Thank you. :)

Vivian Marie said...

Jas - I give up when I outline. I'm HORRIBLE if I outline. I won't finish when I do. Even if it's just a simple like, "In Chapter 5, this will happen" sort of outline. I still can't do it. I really wish I could. I also wish I could just write start-to-finish. Sometimes I can, but I think it's pretty rare, really. In retrospect, I think I almost always jot down a few notes for myself here or there. I'm so jealous of you!! Ugh.

Shayz(Ravella!!!) - So glad you popped by!! I'm so happy this post was helpful for you! <3 I was over on your blog and it made me ridiculously happy. Can't wait to see how that journal turns out! (And I'm a huge Family Guy fan, too!) I also cannot ever, ever hear Eye of the Tiger without thinking of that Supernatural clip, either! LOL! <3