Working backwards

Every writer has a different style, a different method of writing. Some listen to music. There are Plotters and Pantsers and hybrids to boot. Some research more than others. There are writers who focus on character development, scene description, or dialogue. There is no right way or wrong way.

One thing you may have heard (even if you are not a writer yourself) is that, during the editing, most writers comment about whittling down what they have written. Their initial manuscript may be 500 pages and 150,000 words. Their job now is more like a sculptor, chipping away to get the piece into some final form.

I work backwards.

First, I’m a hybrid Plotter-Pantser. I outline the story, do brief bios of the major and recurring characters, and know the start and the finish. Then, the characters take over and wind up telling me their story. I follow their dictates.

However, rather than lingering, I practically rush to tell the story. There re often logic errors (i.e. a character is here at one location but then winds up a hundred miles away without any explanation). There is little description of location. Sidebar commentary, such as would be found in first person narrative, is not as deep or intriguing. I barely get to 50,000 words.

That’s when I build up the story. The first thing I do is make sure there is a logical progression, often using a calendar to mark the sequence of events. The research I had done meticulously prior is now inserted in key moments. The dialogue is fleshed out and filled with the color of the characters speaking it. The retrospective interior monologues give us a pause to allow the reader to catch up with mood.

It’s a rather unique process because I talk to so few writers who do this. But, as anyone will tell you, it’s important to write for yourself. Choose your genre that captivates you, create your story that intrigues you, and write in a manner that is comfortable for you. In the end, the final work will reflect you truly and, hopefully, be inspirational to readers.

2 thoughts on “Working backwards

  1. I love reading about creative processes. I’ve always been a pantser, but am now exploring the world of plotting, and who knows? I might end up being a hybrid in the near future. Great discussion on the topic. In the end, we simply need to be true to who we are as writers. Thanks for this post!


    1. “In the end, we simply need to be true to who we are as writers.” Agreed. AND trsut in and believe your own process. Happy writing!


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