1. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Skipping to the ending when writing

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by mashers, Jul 13, 2017.

    I've been writing the opening chapters, following my plan pretty much in order and jumping between events occurring in parallel to make sure they are timed correctly. This has been working well, since I wasn't sure about how my story would end. I am now having some ideas I like about the ending, and am considering skipping ahead and writing the ending, then either working backwards from there, or continuing towards it from my current point. I'm just wondering if anyone else does this, and if there are any pros or cons to it.
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I don't do it, but I've certainly heard of authors who do.

    I'd think it might be more difficult to get a real sense of continuity in the details of things, like characterization? At least on the first draft.

    But it may depend on how detailed your planning is. @ChickenFreak is currently working on a project where she seems to be jumping all the hell over the place, and I love what she's coming up with, so... give it a try!
     
  3. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Thanks @BayView. I can see what you mean about consistency. I have planned out every chapter and every character interaction (I.e. the chapters in which they cross paths) on a flow chart, with each section of the chart corresponding to a chapter. So I’m confident I can make it all sync up. I actually think that for me, it would help with characterisation as I know where they are starting from and writing the end would ensure they end up how they are supposed to be by the end. Using my plan I should be able to sync it all up I the middle.
     
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  4. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Admirable planning, you remind me of David Poyer, who plans like that, and you can't knock his success with 40 published books over 40 years. As to jumping to the end, Margaret Mitchell wrote the last chapter of "Gone with the Wind" first, and all the other chapters in no particular order, so what you are doing doesn't sound out of line at all. (She was not a planner, by any stretch of the imagination). As to my ending, that one fell in line with my other chapters, it did not turn out the way I expected it, not at all. I tried to tell my characters what to do, and they basically refused to take my orders.
     
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  5. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Thanks @Lew. I had to plan it that way to make sure everything made sense. There’s no MC, and the characters interact in various combinations to come to the ultimate conclusion. I couldn’t make sense of it all so had to plan it out. I might post my flow chart actually, just with the text blurred out.

    Good to know that skipping to the end can work well. I might give it a try writing one of the final chapters. It will als help me to ensure my ending actually works - I’m not sure whether it’s a feasible outcome yet and probably won’t until I write it. My worry is that if I gradually progress towards that intended outcome and then it doesn’t work, I will have wasted my time.

    I envy your characters’ autonomy. I think it shows that your characters are really well established and have identities which are manifesting as you write, whereas I feel like I’m still getting to know mine.
     
  6. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Two names I know who envision the ending before starting writing: Brandon Sanderson and Stephen King.

    From a recent podcast, Sanderson stated that he outlines from the ending and then fill in the scenes from there to beginning. Every scene he adds is a justification and/or a build-up for the end. King, in his non-fiction book "On Writing," mentioned that he doesn't start writing unless he has an end in mind.

    I've been researching about stuff like those, and it does make sense to have an ending in mind. Here's a link from Steven Pressfield discussing that: http://www.stevenpressfield.com/2010/06/start-at-the-end/

    As for me, I've always kept an inciting incident scene and a climactic ending scene in mind. As I write, the ending changes or get modified, and that's okay. Sometimes it's for the better. But having an ending in mind does help give you a target when you pull that trigger.

    P.S. John Irving is another one who starts with an ending. You can read about that here: http://john-irving.com/john-irving-author-q-a/
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  7. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Thanks @nastyjman. That's really helpful info :)
     
  8. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    If you have a moment of clarity, I see no problem with getting it down on paper, wherever it falls in the novel, because you don't want to lose it. You can obviously edit it later. As far as possible, though, it's probably best to write in sequence, to get a feel for the pace of the story and avoid plot issues.
     
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  9. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I like to write part of the ending because I always want to put my MC or at least a close protag in a 'no hope' situation.
    The resolution is someone or some thing I've carefully crafted in the front of the story. This is the person/thing that saves the day, but all along it may have been a back story or an old acquaintance. So, I guess I'm saying, I have to know the ending, but like Lew said my characters don't always pay attention to me.
     
  10. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I always have very detailed plan in my head for my final chapter, but I don't write until I get there for a couple of reasons:
    1. There are so many things that I come up with throughout writing the rest of the book that I don't plan on, and I don't like to have to shoehorn them into something that's already been written.
    2. That final chapter is my reward, man. The payoff for my MC's rocky road to love is my favorite part to write, so finally getting to put it down on the page can sometimes motivate me to keep slogging through the less fun parts.
     
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  11. Tophert79

    Tophert79 Banned

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    I don't see a problem with starting with the ending and then either continuing writing from the start.

    If you have a vision in mind for your character/story and you know how you want it to end, then by all means, write the ending first.

    I don't see a con, on the contrary, if you have a clear vision in sight then it'll give you a clear navigation tool.

    I think the only people that would have a problem with that idea are "pantsers" (Hate that word), as they like to let things flow and grow with the wind. Me? I'm an outliner. So I say go for it.
     
  12. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    I knew what my ending was before I started. And though most of the novel has changed in subsequent re-writes, the climax has remained quite similar. But I forced myself not to write it, and wait until I finished the rest of the book.

    The reason for this has already been mentioned above: I saw writing the ending as the reward for having written the rest of the book. The ending really excited me, and so that was a strong motivating factor to carry on writing when I hit a wall and times got tough and I was losing morale. If I had written that at the start, I tend to think I would have had less enthusiasm to finish that first draft.
     
  13. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    I write partly to find out what will happen. I have a general idea what the ending is, but no idea how it will come about, and I'm deathly afraid that once I find out I won't care enough to keep going. :(
     
  14. Tophert79

    Tophert79 Banned

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    That's why there has to be a certain amount of discipline and courage. And it's always good to stop thinking about the story when you aren't writing it, the sub-conscience will be thinking about it.
     
  15. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    If I wanted to jump to the end and start writing that, I would think I probably started my story in the wrong place. But that's just me. I like to work in chronological order for the most part.
     
  16. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Be careful, once you get to know your characters, they take over and tell their own story! You then are just taking dictation, as I was in E&D. But it was fun... I had to go downstairs to write the next chapter, because it was like a TV series... I had to find out what happened nect
     

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