I Write Everything Backwards – Or Forwards Depending on Perspective

Review Holly Ice Writing Novel While I Slept Elisa Art Vibes

Picture by this lovely artist: http://artvibes.tumblr.com/ (Very talented)
I feel very much like this frog- trying to keep the cold rain out of my MSS one word at a time with only a flimsy leaf for help.

So how can I write backwards and forwards? Well I write in linear fashion but have a very loose plan for novel and for short stories. I usually have an idea of the main issue; a group of serial killings, a kidnapping, a love interest gone right etc. However I usually don’t have a clear idea of the ending until I get to it or what the characters are like until I start writing them.

This can be a problem.

It can also make the writing process more fun and realistic.

What reader is going to know the back story of your characters, their pets, fears and hair colour until you introduce them? I know many writers and writing advice articles will focus on the need to plan. I’ve tried it before – these endless character sheets and plot planning bullet points. It stifles me creatively. The last thing my spontaneous imagination and muse wants is a list. I hate lists. Lists are for chores and homework and shopping. Not writing.

This is where many will say I’m going backwards. I edit the story and only then look at it to see if it makes proper sense. I have to fix plot gaps where things have been added but not introduced or dropped but not had a proper good bye scene. This makes my editing a lot harder. It also makes the first draft much less complete.

Of course, I’m still looking for better ways of planning and a few have been suggested to me or have come to my attention.

One is a sentence for each scene of the novel. Not a bad idea but my best ideas usually come to me in process. Other ideas are to expand upon this and change it as the novel progresses. Again, not a bad idea but I’m a lazy sod and like keeping to one document. I procrastinate enough as it is without another one.

But with the way I work my first draft will need better structure. So far I’ve found two great articles by Randy Ingermanson. Whole novel structure in the Snowflake Method and scene by scene editing with thing/action reaction units here (all free to read and use). It sounds like maths but it really isn’t. I used to do langauges and my brain just needed this simple formula of how to make words do what I think I know I want them to do but can’t quantify.

The character part of his snowflake method even helped me work out what was wrong with one of my novel’s characters. I knew something was but couldn’t place it without his help so I am indebted to him for that. The scene section kept me up all night one night and forced me to write 2000 words in 30 minutes before I could sleep. That’s as high a recommendation as I can give for motivation.

I’m yet to see if these plans will work at the “correct” side or more usual side of novel workings – in the planning stages. That’s for the next book to find out. For now, his advice and the book Self Editing for Fiction Writers  is going to be in the wings, waiting for my first draft to be complete.

If there is any advice you can give me for the next stage of writing and perfecting this thing, please, please, leave a comment.

Hopefully I’ve shown you something that’ll help you, too.

Holly Ice

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  1. I can’t give any advice because I write pretty much as you do. I have heard of the snowflake method though and if is something I keep meaning to look up. Like you, I procrastinate well though.

    I think if you’ve found what works for you, that’s the way it works and you shouldn’t be told that its wrong. Everyone writes differently.

    • Well at least I’m not alone!
      A look will never be a bad thing. Exploring the different methods is what I’m up to atm. I don’t hate my way of writing but I will keep looking for a quicker, better way.
      The quicker I can tap out great novels, the quicker I can get them out there, after all 🙂

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