Home » Writing » Let’s start at the finishing line?

Let’s start at the finishing line?

'Finish/Start' by Anne on Flickr

‘Finish/Start’ by Anne on Flickr

When I come to start writing a new book, I find I tend to always start at the same place:

I always write the ending first.

I don’t know why, it just happens that’s what I feel when I begin. The endings of my books are usually the scene I have thought about the most and know exactly how I want to go.

In contrast, I always write the beginning as the last thing I do.

I have talked before about how I write with a rather unique process, and that I plan in a very detailed way so as I can pick and choose which scenes I want to write that day as I’m feeling them. This works really well for me, if I’m feeling in the mood for a certain scene, I just write that one, and don’t force myself to go in order. Though it does mean I need a very good plan, so as I know exactly what comes before and after the scene I’m writing, so as it all links together smoothly.

But the thing I always do is write the ending first, and the beginning last. It’s not something I make myself do, it just kind of happens, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It just made me realise how individual everyone’s writing process must be and got me wondering what other people do.

Finding the best way to write is one of the most critical things for writers. There’s a lot of advice out there on how to do it, and what you should do, but in the end, it’s up to you to decide what is comfortable and what process makes your writing really come out great. There’s no wrong way, there’s no right way, there’s just your way that is best for you.

Are there any places you start writing a book? Do you write your book in order- start to finish? Is there something you do that’s unique to your writing process?

Progress Report

Status of Third Manuscript: With readers. 1 out of 3 copies back.

April E-Book Review: Book read. Review ready.

73 thoughts on “Let’s start at the finishing line?

  1. I can see how that would work. A lot of writers get so bogged down in crafting the perfect beginning that they never move on, so starting at the end would avoid that problem. 🙂

    I’m a linear writer (start to finish, at least for the first draft), but I don’t plan scenes in order. The big events (ending, climax, turning points, etc) have usually been rattling around in my mind for a while, so they get slotted in before I figure out how to connect them. It’s not a unique method, but it’s working for me so far.

  2. I can relate to that. The End wasn’t the first scene I wrote for Irish Firebrands, but it was close to it, and it did precede the opening scene. It was third or fourth, maybe. I had no idea how the story was going to get there. Boy, was that ever a trip!

    Thanks for helping illustrate the normal variability of the writing experience. I think a lot of the angst associated with writing has to do with a lack of faith in the productivity of spontaneity: some folks get downright anal-retentive about the “shoulds” and “thou shalt nots,” which often lead to constipation of the brain.

    • Every writer is different, which means everyone’s writing process from research to planning to actually writing should be individual. It’s amazing to find out how people go from an idea to getting it down 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  3. I always used to feel impatient – wanting to get these scenes out of the way in order to get to the ‘good stuff’. But lately I’ve been taking to writing future scenes when I get stuck ‘in the present’ (so to speak). I still write a-z but am gradually becoming more flexable … which leads to a better writing experiance. Unique process or not – I really love the way you write 🙂

    • I think it’s good to be able to change it up and go with the flow, sometimes going from start to finish can be overwhelming. Writing a couple of scenes here and there to break it up sounds like a good idea 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  4. I’m a big planner. I don’t start writing until my outline is complete. Sometimes I change the outline as I go along, but the outline is like my Bible. It sounds like you work by an outline, too. Just think–when you become famous, this will be your unique technique that other writers will try to imitate to be like you! 🙂

    • Ha! Not sure people should want to imitate it, it can get confusing sometimes 😀

      I definitely work by an outline, though I am flexible to it when needs be- if a character decides to take a new direction, or a scene changes as I’m going. But definitely do need that detailed plan to start with!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  5. I start with my little black book – as inspiration strikes me. My ideas are collected/sorted in a MindMap (the outline starts to build). Writing starts at the beginning of the story, the following chapters are not necessarily in their final order. The end is (so far) actually written at the end. The ending is something I do not plan beforehand. Occasionally there are two scenarios to choose from…

    • That seems a good way of doing it, if you think of two ways it could end that is good as the reader might not know which it will be! 😀 Great idea.

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  6. I do the same as you. I’m not going to pretend that I have a lot of experience in writing and maybe I will do it differently in my next project. I have a rough beginning, that I’ll probably make a lot of changes to. And I’ve written the last chapters of the story. And then I fill in according to what I feel like writing on that specific day. I have forced myself to continue with some of the more difficult parts (I’m not always good with transitions) because they need to be done, but generally I give myself the freedom to jump around according to my moods.

    • You got to learn by doing, right? The only way you can find the best method that works for you is to keep trying out and then deciding what is comfortable 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  7. Hm, I feel like I’ve said this on your blog before so I’m very sorry if I’m repeating myself, but your writing process sounds a lot like that of Stephanie Meyer (the author of “Twilight”). I can definitely relate when it comes to plotting out the ending first – often, for me, I think of the major plot twist first and then build a story around that, and it turns into a book! However, I generally write in chronological order. I change my stories around so often that it just wouldn’t be feasible to do it like you, haha 😉

    • You work on more than one book at a time? That’s pretty impressive. Think my brain can only handle one at a time 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

      • I do indeed – currently I’m working on three, actually 😉 The secret is staying organised, I believe!

  8. You have an interesting way of writing! I’m one of those linear writers who starts at scene one, moves to scene two, then scene three and so one. Because I don’t plot much, and pants most of the book, I can’t really skip around and stitch scenes together later. Sometimes, I’m just as surprised by the ending as my characters are when we get there, LOL!.

  9. Wow! That’s great! It means you know exactly where your story is going! I wrote the ending of my current novel before I wrote the middle section. Though I wound up rewriting that scene, it still ended the way I’d imagined it would end.

    • It does help to know where my story is going, and knowing what I have to do to get it to that point. But, as you say, being able to re-write or change a scene to suit the story as it develops is important 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

    • That’s a great point, knowing where you going and how it’s gonna end really helps to push me to get the rest of the story down 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  10. I always know the ending of a project before I start working on it but I don’t write it until much later. Occasionally the odd scene or important conversation may occupy my mind and I will write it ahead of time but generally speaking I write in chronological order. Great post 🙂

    • Going in order helps to keep the flow of the story going, plus it does mean it gives your mind time to work on the ending stuff before you actually get there 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  11. I was intrigued by writing this way, but I don’t know that I ever can. I never start with a plot, I always start with the characters. Sometimes it’s an event that defines them, so it could loosely be called plot, but what always gets me is the new voice whispering secrets about themselves in my ear. I was born in a field in Normandy. I have a huge crush on the new dancer at Asylum. I just did a tattoo on a werewolf of Jessica Rabbit. I am afraid of heights, but will overcome it, just to shut that featherfluff up.
    When I write, I’ll often just pick whatever point sounds the loudest, and keep moving linearly until some other story point catches my attention. Slowly, the plot reveals itself to me and I string it all together, tweaking and smoothing as necessary.
    It is a very frustrating style, but also very exciting. I never know what’s going to happen next, so it’s much like reading a very good book that I can’t put down. It keeps me writing because I’m dying to be able to turn the page.

    • It sounds like a very intriguing way to write, and giving the characters control of where the story is going to go must be fun. Finding out how it develops almost as they do! 😀

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  12. I too write the beginning last, but for a different reason. I can’t get it right, so I rewrite, revise, edit, repeat. The book is long finished by the time the beginning is solid.

    • Beginning are, I find, the most troublesome part of a book. It has to be solid, and exciting and capture the reader’s attention. It’s a lot of pressure to get that just right 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  13. I tend to write the first sex scene first. Even if it’s not the scene that ends up in the book, I write a sex scene for the characters first, then agonize over the beginning for ages. Ironically, once I get going, if I have even the vaguest idea of what the storyline is supposed to be, I’m done writing very quickly.

  14. I dont’t think there’s anything unique in my process. For the most part, I try to write in a linear way although sometimes I’d write some scenes ahead of time and insert them in later, just because I’m impatient to reach the good parts like that lol. I find your process very interesting and when I started reading your post, another book that had its ending written first came to mind–Gone With The Wind. Such an epic ending. I think it may be quite a different process if you’re actually building up to it.

    • So many different ways to write 😀 It’s amazing to find out how individual everyone’s process s for getting the story and characters out into the world.

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  15. I write my story from the beginning to the end. I also plan it before I write it – though usually as I write it I find myself writing scenes I hadn’t planned. Which is good, it means I’m experimenting with new ideas. Generally though the essential story stays the same. 🙂

  16. In a weird sort of way this makes sense to me. I get it. I am struggling so with my first chapter. I think I should wait until I am at the end THEN rewrite it.

    • You could always press on with chapter two, then go back to chapter one at any point if you have a spark of inspiration. Chapter one is such a daunting thing 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  17. I love your style of writing the ending first. That way, we know where we are heading, thus making the route a tad less agonizing perhaps. Writing paranormal romance, I know there’s going to be a happy ending– thank heaven– but there are always questions as to the last image to leave with the reader.

    • I do love happy endings, in any book. After going through the struggles with the characters etc, I want to feel optimistic and hopeful at the end 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  18. My sequence is Plot-Scenes-Rest of it.
    Plot comes foremost. Then come Pivotal scenes in random order. Rest is fill in the blanks.

    When I need it written out; always, always, I near-totally write the scene first in my mind; then on paper; then on Microsoft word.

    • I do find it good to go scene by scene, which ever one I am feeling the most that day. Getting into the head space of a scene is important for me, and that’s why I pick and chose what suits me most on certain days 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  19. This is a great post, I really love reading about your writing process! Especially because I’ve been having a hard time getting into the beginning of my next project. The climax is definitely a lot more interesting to write for sure 🙂

    • I do find it easier to leave a scene and move on if I’m having difficulty with it, usually something will pop up in my head for the scene I was stuck on and then I can go back and tackle it later 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  20. I love to learn about the process for other writers. I’m not a planner, as you know, so I write from the beginning and go wherever my ‘pen’ takes me. I think you’re exactly right. There is no ‘one way’ to approach it – everyone is different and that’s what makes it so interesting. I could never write the ending first because I like the build up. Sometimes I don’t even know where it’s going to end and allow the characters to lead me there, which personally, I find very rewarding.

    Thanks for sharing so much of your process because, as writers we learn from each other and we also like nothing more than talking about how we breathe life into our projects!

    Great post, Mishka.

    • It’s an amazing journey when the characters can lead you through a story, and your book takes twists and turns even you couldn’t have expected 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  21. I love hearing about other writers and their processes. I start at the beginning and just make my way through to the end. Sometimes I don’t even know how my own story will end! 😉

    • That’s part of the fun, right? Figuring it out as you go and enjoying the journey the characters take you on 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  22. You’re right – whatever works for you is the only way. I start at the beginning and work my way through but the original first chapter of Not Always To Plan was considered too weak by the publisher so I wrote a completely new one which is so much better. At any rate, the whole process of editting (especially with an external editor) is so huge that it’s almost like re-writing the novel again. It’s confronting having to ‘explain’ all your word choices, etc but I loved the process!

    • The first draft is all about just getting it down onto the page, no matter what way anyone finds best to do it. Editing is the perfect time to polish it up and see what you missed 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  23. I tend to start at the beginning and work my way through, but I make a detailed outline so I know what goes where. I think it’s important to know how the book will end, at least in a general way. Doesn’t mean you can’t change things a bit, but it helps prevent meandering and getting off track.

    • I do find having an outline helps me to keep going, and know what I have left to write. A lot of the time my scenes will change, but at least I can start writing them with some idea of what they were *supposed* to be 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  24. The first thing that I try to do is to figure out how I want my story to end. This is a basic idea and I rarely stick to it. I’m the type of writer that plans out a little bit, change it along the way, and plan out some more. (if that makes sense)

    • Writing is a fluid process a lot of the time, you got to go with the flow and let things develop and change. But that is all part of the fun 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  25. A friend led me here (via Twitter) and I’m so glad 🙂 This is the point where I say ‘Hurrah! Someone like me!’. Writing backwards – that’s my writerly modus operandi too. Ending first and then what ever I think of next, slowing stitching each fragment together with new thoughts and ideas, Writing in backstitch. It is lovely to know I’m not alone! I wrote a blog post on it but I’m frightened to leave a link in case WordPress pings me as spam. Anyhow, I called the post ‘Writing Backwards’, not that I’m an accomplished writer, more a hobby writer. But I’m rambling. Sorry. Thanks for the post. 😀

    • It’s always good to meet fellow writers, especially those with similar writing process 😀 Writing the ending first is always the way I seem to go, I don’t know why, it just kind of happens that way!

      Will definitely be checking out your blog, hope you find the posts here helpful or just a good read 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  26. I tend to write my stories with the middle scene–the major dramatic point (climax) in mind. I like the idea of writing the ending and beginning before the rest of the story. I often struggle to end the story, but know I must. That sounds like a good technique for me to try in my future stories!

    • Doesn’t matter where you start a story, as you can always build around it. That’s why I love writing, it’s so fluid and easy to mould to how you want to do it!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  27. It’s a little random for me too. If I have a story planned out, I’ll probably work from start to finish. However, the end is often the first thing that I plan! But sometimes, I tend to write random scenes that come to me – they may not even be from the story I’m working on but just a scene that sparks off another idea. I just play it out and leave it be to come back and look at it when it’s time to pick that one up. I’ve found that to be a great way to beat writer’s block!

  28. I start out with a character in mind, and usually a good line. The line and the character go hand in hand. From there, I just let my imagination take me where it will. It’s funny how it works out for me: as soon as I get a line and a general feel for the character, the story starts to come together in my mind. The ending is always last for me. I’m never sure where I’m going to end up – until I somehow manage to get there! And then I’m as surprised as my characters at what’s occurred.

  29. I’m the exact opposite. I have no skill at writing endings, but I’m a lot more comfortable with writing a beginning. Oftentimes, even if I don’t have a clear idea of my setting/characters/whatever setting out, I find that the beginning will really do a lot to help shape them as I develop, however hastily dashed down it may be.

  30. Writing the ending first sounds good to me, if you can do it. When I read a print book, I always read the ending first and it doesn’t spoil it at all. You can’t do that on Kindle, though.

    • I have the opposite trouble, and struggle coming up with good beginnings 😀 It’s all worth the struggle in the end though!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  31. I’m fascinated by the variety of writing style among the various commentators. I’m not a planner or very structured. Brandon Sanderson in his online tutorials talks about two different types of writers, the Gardeners and the Architects. I am definitely a gardener, planting seeds quite randomly as I go along, allowing them to sprout later in the book. I never quite know the ending until I’m at least half way through my books. I have written four and in each case I was surprised by the ending myself. It just sort of comes to me as the story progresses. I see everything in my head in a cinematographic way (I wasn’t sure if that was even a word, but spell check says ‘yes’) and when I start a book I always do so at the beginning. I find the ending quite difficult so maybe that is why it takes me so long to come up with it. Thanks for such a great post and for inciting such interesting comments from your readers.

    • It is great when everyone comments and really gets a discussion going. The variety of writing styles just shows how individual everyone is, and how that really makes great books! If everyone wrote the same way, I think things would be very boring 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

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