Start at the End

by | Plot | 11 comments

As I described in my post Pantser to Plotter, I started writing my novel as a pantser.  One day, one of my characters did something unexpected, and the entire story evolved in a new, tantalizing direction. This development excited me, until I realized I needed to press the delete key on about a month’s worth of writing. I knew following the new storyline would produce a better result; but the decision was gut wrenching.

For a while, I found it difficult to move ahead. I didn’t want to waste time writing stuff I’d toss out later.

Then I read in Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (See Tool 39: Write Toward an Ending), that J. K. Rowling started the Harry Potter series by writing the last chapter of the final book. As a pantser, that option never occurred to me.

So that’s what I did. But before I could write the ending, I needed to bring the story in my head to a point of closure. Sure, I knew where the story led. But I had several alternative concepts on how to wrap things up.

When I roughed out the final chapter, I thought: This is like an epilogue. Where’s the excitement? Where is the climax? It took a week of sketching, trashing and recycling ideas before I found the ending I wanted.

Once I’d completed the final chapter, I found my mental obstacles had vanished. With the destination clearly fixed, writing became so much easier. After all, now I knew where I was going.

Afterwards, I recalled the wise words of Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

I found the process enabling. When I passed this on to some of my pantser friends, they were aghast. They claimed this would inhibit their creativity.

What’s your opinion? Please share it below.

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