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  1. RightWrite

    RightWrite Member

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    Writing backwards for a mystery novel...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by RightWrite, Nov 17, 2019.

    I know how to plan, plot/outline the mystery novel working backwards but when it comes to actually writing out each scene, how do you write it? Do you write it backwards, going from the last scene to the first or linearly from the first to the last? I couldn't find any info on the net about this, hence the question posted here.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
  2. The_Joker

    The_Joker Member

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    Do you know your ending?
     
  3. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    i generally write forwards , but either approach is valid... i struggle with writing out of order but i know some very successful authors who do
     
  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I suppose a mystery must be impeccably plotted in order to work, unless you have faith that a solution will come to you as you write. So maybe it's the plotting you need to do ahead of time. Once you know exactly what's going to happen and when, I suppose you can start the actual writing anywhere you like.

    I'd suggest starting with a scene that you find particularly interesting or exciting, even if it comes in the middle of the story. It will get you into the flavour of your story, and maybe determine the pace as well. You can go back and connect the dots later, and craft your story's beginning ...which isn't the same as 'plot.' It's the launch of the reader's expectations, so that's how you'll want to frame it.

    As long as you have the plot firmly outlined, you can write scenes in any order you want. When you're in the mood to write a quiet scene, write that. When you're in the mood for a party scene, write that. When you're in the mood for high suspense and danger, write those scenes. If you write each scene with enthusiasm, it will be easy to link them together. The last thing you want to do is be plodding along because you know you MUST get these details in, or the whole thing falls apart.
     
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  5. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    You plot backwards and write forwards. So long as you know where you're going and how to get there, it's like any other book.
     
  6. RightWrite

    RightWrite Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    If I didn't, I would be in real deep trouble like the great Joker! :bigwink:

    I follow what you're saying. And this might actually be a better strategy, since if you write each scene linearly whether it be backwards or forwards then any significant, abrupt change in a scene's plot will require you to linearly modify the entire novel from this point either to the beginning or the end. Just a thought.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
  7. The_Joker

    The_Joker Member

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    Hmm. That's actually a pretty good idea. Trying to think of what logically happens next isn't much fun, but trying to connect it to pre-established cool plot scenes sounds much easier.
     
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  8. Nesian

    Nesian Member

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    I've never done well with writing a plan or following any, so it's scattered beginnings to chapters that I will 'hopefully' elaborate on later if it fits into the flow of the story.
     
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I'm a first time mystery novel writer. I pantsed the whole thing. When I starred writing I didn't plan to write a mystery, but by the end of the first chapter it was clear that's what I was setting out to do. I made it as complex of a story as I could. I dropped clues without knowing where they would lead. I had no idea how this would end. None. But that's okay. I trusted that the right pieces of the puzzle would come to me as needed. So, this approach can work too. But what I focused on was writing a good story. And we don't read stories backwards.

    I recently wrote a short story where I thought I did know the ending. I wrote two versions that brought me to the same ending I had planned. It wasn't a bad story, but it sort of felt like I wrote it just to bring reading to what I thought was a really cool ending for the story. The biggest problem was the ending was the best part. The twenty pages that came before it weren't exactly a seamless flow to my desired outcome. So, I thought about it and asked myself why I was saving the best part for the end. This story had some mystery elements to it, but I took that ending and moved it up. Now, it was a different sort of story and mystery. I'm not talking about flashbacks. I changed the present narrative to the story. Now where do things go from here? If the story starts with the "big reveal," what comes next? And this is probably one of my best stories.

    I think writing backwards can really screw up the flow of a story. It would require more work in the drafts that would be needed after than I would know what to do with. How a story is written is equally as important as the story when it comes to fiction and especially selling fiction. I'm not saying you can't use an outline, but I would suggest allowing yourself to deviate from the planned course as needed. If you're already feeling like the best way to make sense of your story is to approach it backwards, it doesn't really seem like you are viewing at a story. I story is more than pieces. I would try to think of the story more as a whole than trying to figure out the pieces you need to reach a certain ending.
     
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  10. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I tried writing a mystery story once, when I was really young cause I love to read them but it didn't pan out. I started with the crime, broke down what could be used for clues, the suspects, the red herrings etc. It was more like a brainstorm effect like when my fourth grade teacher used to write a word on the blackboard and we had to call out ideas for a plot.
     
  11. Malisky

    Malisky Sirocco Contributor

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    If you've plotted it out completely, I see no reason to write it backwards. Unless if you see a reason. For what reason would you start writing backwards? Problem with that is that as you reach the beginning you might stumble upon other issues (apart from the basic plot of the mystery itself) that concern the character dynamics and the built of their relationship pacing.

    I'm not against any kind of writing method. Whatever suits you most. From my experience it's better to write at least a fast, straight-forward vomit draft (not so detailed and with notes here and there) and then take it from there.

    If you have scenes that you feel mostly inspired to write first, catch the momentum and write them down of course. Save them and see where you can place them later on.
     
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  12. RightWrite

    RightWrite Member

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    I don't have the entire novel plotted out completely. Rather, I only have just a basic skeleton in place -- just a basic outline highlighting the major events in the mystery. In fact, I don't have all the clues, red herrings, and plot twists in place. But I do have the characters, crime details, and settings details hammered out. So it would probably be in my best interest to write it forwards from the first scene to the last. But your strategy seems doable too. By the way, I don't feel particularly confident with trying the approach of writing it non-linearly as a few have suggested in this thread -- not that I can't do it, but it just doesn't feel natural to me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019

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