Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting it back to front and back again

I wrote "END" on the last page of my novel yesterday, which felt great at first. Except that the novel's not actually finished - barely halfway complete, actually.

I was starting to have trouble writing the story, and I realized that I needed to switch things up to keep myself fresh. So, I decided to use an old sleight of hand manoeuvre: start at the end and write the scenes in reverse order.

A red light started flashing inside my skull pretty early on. I've used this tactic previously, and it worked really, really well with short stories; but it doesn't work at all for me on the novel-front. I think this has to do with a few things, but the big culprits are the vast profusion of story lines and character development arcs - which it is hard to completely pin down if you just write the ending and assume, "they'll turn out like this." Also, I'm discovery writing, so, uh... yeah. Not even sure what the ending really, truly ought to be at this point.

Anyway, I guess that's what learning and practice is all about, or something... right? I'm back to writing forwards, plugging away at a pace just barely ahead of all those NaNoWriMo'ers to whom I feel so superior because I refuse to "do" NaNoWriMo despite writing a novel in the month of November.


I also came to the realization that I have an entire YA-SF novel sitting in a drawer, and I'd really like to finish it. It's actually kind of, uh, urban fantasy (inspired from when I asked myself, "How's this Twilight stuff so popular? I could do better"), so who knows, maybe if I edit it, I can sell it and become incredibly wealthy and famous.

But I've probably... got it all... backwards?




  1. Congratulations! Is this your first finished novel?

    At this point, I'd recommend reading Syd Field's THE SCREENWRITER'S WORKSHOP. You really need to have struggled through a novel to appreciate everything Field's says, but his book is a treasure trove of techniques on how to structure a story.

    Best of all -- he's able to combine outline with discovery writing.

    I'm using it religiously as I write my WIP. I love the method, and I love the results.

    This novel is 100 times better than number two. I have high hopes for it.

    Again -- congrats!!

  2. Yeah, I don't think I've ever finished a rough draft of a novel and thought to myself: "Finished! Hallelujah!" It's really not 'finished' until the third or fourth rewrite, and even then, you always feel like it could be better.

    Sounds like you're heading in the right direction, though. And even though it hurts like brain surgery, it's so much fun to write a novel. Good luck!