WIP: Working Backwards

When I first started writing, I took an adult school class on Writing the Novel. The homework after the first class was to decide how our books would end, or more specifically, what were the climax and denouement of our stories. Huh? I hadn’t given the ending a thought. I was still struggling with the beginning, thank you very much.  But I spent the first week thinking about how the book would end. My protagonist, Kit, was a runner, so the climax would occur during a marathon. Suddenly, things started falling into place. I now knew where I wanted to end up, and could aim the rest of my book in that direction.
That homework assignment was one of the most useful things I’ve learned as a novelist. So today, I thought about where I want LOVING ANDY to go. The dramatic, climactic scene came to me quite quickly–very atmospheric and a teeny bit preposterous, which only means I will have to work hard to make it seem real and believable. Now I have a goal to aim toward.
I also realized this week how much research I have to do: Emerald Isle (which may turn out to be the wrong place for this story), the North Carolina legal system’s handling of juveniles, what it’s like to be in the middle of a fire, more–a lot more–on fetal alcohol syndrome, midwifery (I think the mother, Joanna, is a midwife), empaths, a fictionalized religion, hurricanes and oceanfront houses, and plenty more. I love research. It’s the easy part of writing.


  1. Brenda on September 16, 2006 at 5:06 pm

    Writing backwards is awkward-but sometimes my students have to do that too.
    First person-I am now used to it…just finished a book written in first-a novel-a pregnant woman on bedrest (Ironically found in library and had just written you about that)…It was written in journal form-intriguing…BEDREST…short and sweet…
    Am overwhelmed with work and grad school-am off to Ohio tomorrow to SPEAK-briefly at a church my ex and I started 30 years ago-this is the anniversary…
    Have several trips planned and too much work-a couple of these grad classes-are getting to me.
    Diane-I am following CLOSELY your project and have decided when I have finished my degree-will get back to the VIETNAM period novel and work on it.

  2. Diane Chamberlain on September 17, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    Brenda, I’m very curious about the church you and your ex started and will email you privately about it, since–for now at least–one of my characters started a church. i won’t get in touch for a while, though. i need to get a little deeper into the story to be sure that’s the direction i plan to go in. but i’m intrigued.
    As for the writing backwards, I don’t feel as though I’m actually doing that. Rather, by figuring out the ending first, I can then write FORWARD toward that goal. Maybe that’s what you meant, too.
    Good luck with your courses! I remember grad school as if it were yesterday. I reserved Saturday night for R and R and that was the only time I could play. But I loved my studies so it was fun for me. Hope yours become a little more fun as well.

  3. Brenda on September 17, 2006 at 8:32 pm

    That is exactly what I meant-the way you are writing…
    I agree with you-that book is very left brained.
    As to the church-I spoke today and it went very well.
    Any help you need let me know.

  4. Diane Chamberlain on September 17, 2006 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks, Brenda. I’ll get in touch about the church when I decide on that part of the story.

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