1. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Writing a climax or crucial end scene before you get to it

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mallory, May 5, 2011.

    Let's say you're early on in the novel, like chapter one or two, but you want to write a scene toward the end where something really crucial happens or where the MC learns the Big Reveal. (i.e. out of order). Not the very end, but a scene maybe 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through, where it's leading up to the climax.

    Now, I realize all the common sense rules that go along with this - don't feel tied down to that scene, you can change it later as needed, etc. But I once heard J.K. Rowling did it and it seems like a good idea.

    What are your thoughts? And no I"m not asking for validation, I'll probably end up doing this either way, I'm just curious what others' experiences have been and thought it might be interesting to spark discussion.

    So has anyone else done this? :)

    Also has anyone tried writing backwards? Like doing the end first and the beginning last and progressing roughly in reverse order?
     
  2. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    I always do this.

    I like to know where I need to head for before I start, it keeps my story flowing forward.

    I like to write good scenes as they come to me and fit it into the story later.

    I know what my final setback/disaster scene is for my current novel and I also have the final scene planned that leads to the next novel.

    I don't do the beginning last though, I do that scene next, then all I need to do is join the dots. :)
     
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  3. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    I used this method with the 1st unfinished novel I wrote, didn't with the second.

    I honestly liked using the latter method better. Normally though, I have an outline/time line of events that need to occur before getting to the climax. Don't get me wrong, the climax is my absolute favorite part to write (and saddest once it was all over) but I felt a greater deal of satisfaction getting to that point from the beginning that jumping right to it.

    Sad thing is, if I wanted to finish my fist novel, all I would have to do is write 1 chapter in the middle. Too bad I abandoned the entire concept. One high school summer I'll never get back.
     
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  4. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I prefer not knowing for certain what's going to happen. Often I know events have to lead to a place, but emotionally, it can come out very differently. When I wrote the script version of one of my favourite stories (really quickly for Script Frenzy last year) I gave it a certain dramatic conclusion. Then I started re-writing it as a novel, and fleshed everything out and found a ton new emotions to add in, and suddenly when it came to writing the end scene I had to change all the dialogue and emphasis and reasons for all the actions, and even had to push the characters further than I normally would to fit what was meant to happen to them.

    (That was less a re-write than sticking to the plan - almost every scene up to that point I'd kept word for word, apart from the thousands of words I crammed in between those original words. The ending, being more of an action sequence, I thought was pretty much written for me already and all I'd have to do is take away the script formatting :p)

    But normally I just keep a vague sort of ending in mind and write towards that. I know enough to guide the story, but not so much I'm not open to anything happening in the drive to get there.
     
  5. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I decided to use the climax of my story to the beginning because the readers would raise questions on what the main character’s reactions would be and how he would cope with the situation. I felt that writing that story backwards is captivating because the main character in my story will not believe in what the supporting character of the situation is telling him. The denial is the actual twist of the story and not the climax itself. Since I decided to write the novel into a movie, I switched the ending of the story to the beginning. In the novel, the supporting character gave him the big reveal at the very end instead of the beginning. To answer Malloy’s last question, I actually and literally reversed the story, and it actually worked. If I was to write the big reveal at the end of the story, the readers would not only find it hard to know what is going on, but they would not know the plot twist of the story, which is the denial of the big situation.

    I believe that revealing the big thing at the beginning of the story first generates a plot twist idea for the writer. Successful writers probably took this approach before. In some cases, the reversing works for me, but I have never actually written another project besides the one I am working on right now. So I can't gurantee you that it will always work in my ideas.
     
  6. Jigen
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    Jigen Member

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    I write what I want when I want to. The whole thing is going to get rewritten anyway (and each time it will get better), and it's usually more fun to fill in the connective tissue of the story when I've already put down some pieces I really enjoy.
     
  7. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Occasionally, yes!

    If I already have the scene in my head, and want to write it, I go ahead and write it. If later I decide I don't like it any more, I can always delete it.
     
  8. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    I've written scenes ahead of my progress quite a few times, and I think they help keep me focused to continue writing like a lighthouse keeps fishing boats from crashing into the shallow, rocky shoreline. Sometimes these scenes are full-on, detailed descriptions, while others just have a few short lines of dialogue and a few paragraphs of scenic description; really what I can manage at the time. But on a better level, I think they're just there to keep me sane while I write my book ;)

    I'd love to hear if anyone plots backwards. Some authors say it's always best to know the ending before you know the beginning. The way I start out most of the time is just knowing, having a vauge sense of the ending and then I begin. But then again, I have yet to finish any one of my bigger stories. So that's just me :p
     
  9. MMC83
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    MMC83 New Member

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    I think you should write whatever way you feel most comfortable. As long as your getting it all down, you can organise it at a later stage.
     
  10. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    It works for some... and for others it doesn't. There is no harm in trying.

    I did this with two of the very first stories I had written and it didn't work out for me. I found it more of hindrance than helpful. But I think a part of it had to do with with the way I wrote the scenes.

    I wrote the future scenes with the intent of it being able to easily stick into my novel when I get there (of course with minor changes) but...it was hard. Since, I was only on the first two chapters of my novel when I wrote a scene that was meant to be the climax or an important part, looking back at the scenes much later, I found that I was very disconnected with the characters. Most character details come as you write, their personality develops etc... and writing a future scene that is meant to have all of it's "future" personality when you don't' know what that is as you haven't developed the beginning yet... it didn't work. All the scenes had to be scraped and even some of the directions and ideas. In the end, I was left with a skeletal outline of my original idea which is what I would have even if i had waited to write it.

    The second time, I tried to write the story in bits and pieces as my inspiration was so great... my entire novel style shifted without my consent. I had planned on writing it as an actual story, introduce the characters and work naturally forward as with any story, instead what I got were flash-forward and flash-backs scenes that even though I could piece together properly, it was no longer the original premise I had in mind. And to make it work, I had to change how I would continue to write the story.

    The only other time that I have written the future scenes where it did work and (is one of my proudest pieces) is when I decided to write what my entire novel would be about in bits and flashes of future scenes in four pages or 2000 words. This was to serve as the prolouge of my story and even though the reader would know exactly what the story was about going in from the start, there were still a lot of details I left out that would leave the reader wanting more. It didn't have much detail on who the charters were, but it got the jist of what the story was and pack and heavy emotional punch and also ended on the cliffhanger. The reason I think it worked is because I didn't go into writing the scenes with the characters in mind but rather the situation. It emotionally invested you into the situation and it abruptly ends to leave you wanting more... and so it served as a perfect prologue... to start with chapter from the very beginning.

    I think intent is what makes a lot of the difference. If you intend to write it as a part of your novel in future parts - none have worked out for me without it drastically changing my story. The times it has worked is when I was writing it without the intention of putting it in my story but just as a reminder of my initial thoughts or the scenes served as a purpose of foreshadowing what was to come in the story.
     
  11. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do that. I actually jump around a lot when I write...if I'm working on an early chapter and get stuck on something, but I have an idea for a later part of the story, I skip ahead, then go back later. Sure, sometimes it leads to inconsistencies or things need to change, but that's easier for me than just sitting there bashing my head against a wall when I hit a snag.
     
  12. Drayzon
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    Drayzon Member

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    I do this sometimes with my action/horror/sci-fi/fantasy stories. Sometimes I write them down so I don't forget, also because sometimes you get the story all jumbled up, you'll get the end first or the climax point and I think it's best to just flow with it. If you try to stay in order many times you'll frustrate yourself because you have so many ideas, so for me I just flow and let it come as it may.
     
  13. JMBlackman
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    JMBlackman New Member

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    I'm with the, "do this occasionally/when it fits" folks. Sometimes, it's helpful to me to write out of order. If I'm stuck on a certain point, but I know I can write a scene further down the line, I'll do that because at least I'm writing something. It all depends on the situation. But I doubt it would hurt to write it. Like you already said, you can go back and change accordingly!
     
  14. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I write in blocks - and juggle them around.

    I usually get the story in my head quickly - as in beg. mid. and end.

    I write a few paragraphs of the beg. a bit in the middle and the end, usually the last line.

    Then the real work, of getting from A to B to C, begins.
    I like to know what I'm aiming for.
    If I don't know the end of my story, I kick it around in my head until I do. If in the process of writing I come up with a better ending then I'll change it - but more often than not I stick with my original idea.

    Not only that if a conversation comes to me for later in the story - I jot it down somewhere, then when I'm ready for it, I'll copy and paste it where I want it.
     
  15. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    Yes and it's been working for me so far.

    I've tried to write 'chronologically', but as long as I have something that's going to happen further on the novel stinging my brain, I don't rest until I write it. So, I do it. I write the end of the story, or the critical scene and leave it there. When the novel reaches the point where that scene happens, I read it again and frequently rewrite it.

    Writing something that's just going to be rewritten seems like losing time sometimes, but it's the only way I can manage. When I need to write some scene, is almost like a compulsion. I just can't help it.
     
  16. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Isn't there a joke somewhere that goes something like:

    Writer: I can't think of any endings for my stories - I just keep coming up with openings.

    "Helpful" person: Start with writing the endings then!

    [a short time later]

    Writer: Now I have a load of ends and can't think of any beginnings...
     
  17. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never done this, because if I don't write the scenes in order I just plain start skipping every scene I don't want to write, and when I finally finish the first draft, it's actually not halfway done...
    But I have a friend who always start a story by writing the ending first. It keeps her focused and she knows what she's heading towards.
     
  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've tried it, but I found that it's more than just the fact that subtle changes occur in the characters and the story line by the time you get to The Event, and it takes a lot of wrenching to get it to fit. It's that I find that writing to a fixed point in space is very limiting, because that's where you HAVE to go. Putting The Event in the outline is one thing - I never feel married to an outline, anyway. But writing it as the future part of the story is something I decided just doesn't work for me.

    Interesting question, though.
     
  19. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I so concur with this. If you have an idea of what is going to happen in the future you can slip inconsequential items into your first few chapters that the reader may forget. Then when the event comes to past it causes the reader to flash back to the first few chapters.

    It's like playing with the readers mind. :p
     

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