Friday, July 22, 2011

working backwards

I never start at the end. Sounds like a stupid thing to say, but a lot of mystery writers start with the resolution of the mystery and work backwards to figure out the right clues, without giving away too much.

I start with the setup, the major turning points and then I get to the end. But as I start to plot the next book, with a whole set of new monsters and two different worlds to work through, I'm starting with the end, at least where it comes to characterization. What do I need her to to be at the end? And then work backwards as if she's a mystery to figure out what she needs to start like. I will need to give her a set of skills to navigate both worlds, and a set of drawbacks.

I think back to the Hunger Games and the skill set that Collins gave to Katniss that made her the perfect person to win those games without stretching incredulity. I need the same, but tailored for my world, and so as I start, I'm really thinking about the ending and where she needs to be and then how she gets there.

It's a change in my process, and I'm not sure if it will work or not, but I'm excited to try. Anyone else work backwards?


Eileen said...

Yes . . . and no. I always need to know where the journey is going to end before I start. Otherwise I'm all over the map. Or possible off the map entirely.

I thing I go both ways (and please make sure to make that sound dirty). The middle is always the hardest part for me, so I work forward some from the set up and backward from the resolution and hope like hell that the stupid middle works and I'm not like some railroad project that gets to the center and has a total derailment.

Maureen McGowan said...

Bigger question is: what are you doing working on a next idea when you still haven't sent me the last one??? LOL

When I'm working on a premise/idea I go back and forth a lot, which is why I'm often confused. For a lot of books, I had the world/premise first and tried to figure out what kind of characters to fit into that world. With others, I had the character first and gave her a story.

And I suppose, with my most recently completed ms I did know how I needed it to end before I started... but I'm not sure I thought enough about it all first. Hence much angst while writing...

Stephanie Doyle said...

I'm way too linear. I must start at the beginning, slog my way through the middle then race to the end.

I know where I'm going - but I never write anything out until I'm there.

Eileen said...

But you know, don't you, Steph? You always know. It makes me so jealous.

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