“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” ― T.S. Eliot
At retreat last month a friend of mine was feeling stuck at a point in the middle of her manuscript. A fellow writer suggested that she try writing out the end of the story to see if that would help give her some direction. She tried it and it worked.
I recently found my own manuscript stalling and decided to give this approach a try. It turns out that this little snippet of advice happened to have a profound effect on my writing process. I have to admit that I’m still working through whether I’m a pantster, plotter, or somewhere in between. I don’t think it matters though. In the romance genre the ending is obviously going to be a happy one but I found it to be amazingly helpful to start at that point.
I had a vague idea of what my ending was going to be like but actually writing it out gave my story a renewed purpose. It has kept my scenes lean and focused by eliminating a lot of the fluff I had created while meandering somewhat aimlessly through the plot. Now I know that every scene I write advances the story in the right direction. I’ve heard it referred to as “connecting the dots” too. You write a beginning and an ending before connecting them with everything in between.
Something else that this approach helped me with was torturing my characters. I usually have a hard time subjecting them to various tribulations because I want them to be happy. By writing their future first, it helped me visualize how the trials they endure will make it all worth it when they are awarded a happy ending. It solidified how much my characters would need to grow from beginning to end.
Have you tried this approach? Does it work for you?