I write backwards. Dna I t’nod naem yllaretil, because I’ve just discovered that writing like that does your head in. How are you going with reading it? I’m talking about endings. I write the last line first and then work my entire story, poem or blog around it. I wrote this way as a child and it’s carried on into adulthood. I start with a vague idea and unless I get the ending first, I’ll struggle to write anything preceding it. I’m writing in backstitch, moving forwards by going backwards .
If this method of writing sounds idyllic, it’s not. It’s like an oracle has shown me the treasure at the end of a maze, and I’m at the beginning and the maze is missing. Then I’m so busy building a maze around the oracle’s vision I don’t always allow the story to tell itself.
My long-running WiP has proven to be a strange exception to my modus operandi. Occasionally I find this last-is-first tendency emerging within some chapters, but as for the main story, I only have a faint picture of its conclusion. I guess this makes sense given the complex layers in larger written works. Or so I thought.
Several months ago, my long-running WiP got sidelined by an idea emerging from hibernation. That dormant little seed in my brain suddenly sprouted an ending. Argh! Suddenly I knew how a whole novel would conclude and I hadn’t even finalised the name of my protagonist. So I wrote the end-fragments of this new WiP and put it away again as my brain imploded in a void of unknowns.
It’s a messy way to write. Endings first and then random blocks of writing that I string together with other blocks of writing which hopefully form a coherent book. I’m certain it affects the fluidity of my work and I’m certain I’m writing a lot of words that won’t even make first draft. I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this, but I’m more than willing to hear suggestions! Gaps in your story are gaps irrespective of whether they’re at the beginning, the middle or the end. It’s still a whopping hole in your story. I’m sure if I wrote linearly I’d just be struggling with something else and if I plotted my story fanatically, there’ll still be those plot points that’d evade me.
I do need to flex my imagination muscle more and perhaps practice writing in different directions. It might give me a new perspective. Why are the parts you haven’t written the hardest to write (which is as silly as asking why things that make you laugh are funny)?
How do other writers write? How do you write? It’s not like we’re all sitting with our laptops in the same cafe and reading over each other’s shoulders, counting word counts, differentiating between touch-typers and keyboard pokers. Writers who are fast versus those who are slow, those who could write the leg off a table and those with the time to reattach it while they contemplate their next word, line or sentence. Those who find themselves with too many words and those who struggle to find enough. Someone should do a study or take a survey. Someone probably has. If that’s you, or someone you know, please post a link.
I don’t know whether the end is a good place to start, but I write in backstitch and however you look at it, this is the line I wrote first.
Like this? See also this post by Sinead O’Hart.