Writing the End… First

At the beginning of February I began devoting all of my writing time to Book 2 in my series. The problem I faced as I started in chapter one was I didn’t have a solid plan for the first fifth of my book… As I wrote it, it felt boring. So, I switched it up and decided to write the end first.

Writing the last chapters of my book before the rest of it has been a little weird. I’ve been productive, but I’ve also been learning some things. My first book, I wrote starting at the beginning. Although I wrote sporadic scenes from all sections, I sat down and intentionally wrote from page one. Now, I’m starting from the very end and I’m noticing some differences in the way I’m approaching my story.

I don’t usually write outlines. I will write a sort of line graph of time for the story and plop major events on it, but I find outlines are a distraction to my writing. Then I put more work into the outline than the book, and also I feel restricted when I have a detailed outline to follow. While writing the end, I’ve found myself creating a list of plot arcs that I have the end for. For most of them I know what happens, and now I have it written down on paper. It feels like I’m almost creating an outline, but more vague. This allows me to keep track of all of the plot twists and sub plots and character growth I have planned. I didn’t start out by making an outline, but I’m finding that I’m making one naturally.

My books have certain themes that are quietly repeated through them so that an idea is subtly reinforced on all the pages. I have not done a lot of work figuring those themes out yet and figuring out how the world reflects something greater. I thought I had an idea, but now that I’m writing action scenes left and right, I’m realizing I have not put in the work. I need to know what my world is about. And right now, I don’t know that on the level I need to have thought out.

I’m also giving more attention to my characters’ purposes. What are they trying to accomplish? Do they accomplish it? Where in the story could’ve they made a different decision that would’ve caused a different outcome? By writing the end, I am creating moments of frustration and feelings of uselessness, and also moments of satisfaction and victory.

A writing exercise I love is trying to map out the development of a characters emotions towards their goal. If a guy is upset about not being elected, that makes him grouchy and possibly careless in other areas because he’s preoccupied with anger. I feel like I thought about this differently when I began writing the beginning of a book, like I was trying to create their emotions. Whereas at the end of the book, I feel like I’m trying to see what they felt. So far it feels like I will make more comfortable, natural characters. We’ll see.

Starting at the end is giving me a new approach to how I’m writing my book…. I’ll end up at the beginning sometime, I’m sure I won’t write it back to front straight through. But right now, it’s highlighting certain characters and sub plots that I know I’m going to have to make worthy of such dramatic endings.

Even if you don’t know how to begin a piece of writing, that’s okay! Write the end first. Or the middle. Or any part that you have in your mind, and go from there. It’s working for me.

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