September 29, 2020, 05:27:19 AM

Author Topic: Plotting backwards  (Read 8939 times)

Offline DRMarvello

Re: Plotting backwards
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2015, 02:12:31 PM »
Yeah, I guess discovery writing really isn't n option with this approach. But does anyone else do this? Creating the plot by starting at the end and then doing the actual writing going down this pre-established track?
I don't start at the end, but I don't start until I know the end. I'm a Snowflake Method writer, for the most part.

Like you, inspiration often starts with a character in a particular situation (though not always the climax).  I expand the inspiration scene backward and forward until I have the main plot points. From there, story planning becomes a dance between plot and character.

I don't go all the way down to the scene level with my planning because that never works out for me. Once I start writing, I *always* discover things and make tweaks to the plan. I rarely change the major plot points, but I never know how I'll get from one point to the next until I start writing. (James Scott Bell calls this the "Headlights Method" because you know where you are going, but you don't see the details until you reach that part of the story.)

This has been an interesting thread. Thanks for starting it. I love reading about how other authors assemble their stories, and I'm always looking for ways to improve my process.
Daniel R. Marvello
Blog: The Vaetra Files
Books: The Vaetra Chronicles

Offline night_wrtr

Re: Plotting backwards
« Reply #31 on: March 28, 2015, 10:06:33 PM »
My first completed book had a horrendous ending. It was the result of my discovery writing. I didn't know where I was going and it showed. The characters had satisfying conclusions, however, a massive overarching plot point went unsolved...

My beta reader. "What? How...how do you end a book with an army outside the city gates!"

Anyway, I am still working on editing this ending, but I can't help but think if I had done this to begin with it would not have caused me so many problems! Fixing earlier parts of the story to make it all work has stressed my mental capabilities.

I will plot backwards on my next WIP. It will be worth the try.


Offline Yora

Re: Plotting backwards
« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2015, 10:38:28 PM »
At the very least I think it helps when you know what kind of resolution you want to have at the ending. Working your way towards a goal instead of leaving it open ended until you get there.

Open ended writing probably works best when your story is about just one or two characters and their attempt to solve a personal problem. If at the end you discover the character screwed up even worse and will never find the resolution he was searching for, that's still an ending. If we never learn who was the real killer or how the battle ends, it's only a problem when that is what the story was about. If that question was only the background in front of which the protagonists personal story takes place, never giving an answer to it can actually be quite effective and enhance the themes of the story. Though to some extend that is just my personal preference that lots of people don't seem to share.
In a story about events or a conflict with multiple involved parties, I think its actually very likely to write yourself into some corners.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

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Offline D_Bates

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Re: Plotting backwards
« Reply #33 on: March 30, 2015, 12:05:04 AM »
I always have an ending in mind before I begin. I'm a rather meticulous plotter though, and like to run off 20 pages of bullet points before I even work on the first sentence. Just thinking about writing off the top of my head scares the crap out of me. I'd only end up counting the words and panicking if there's no conclusion in sight.

Personally speaking, as a reader as well as a writer, I consider the ending the most crucial part of the story--that final lasting memory of the imaginative experience. If people don't like the story then they'll stop reading part way through, but those that get to the end absolutely deserve to be rewarded for it. I want it to be the biggest moment, and if that happens to be a scene that's popped into my own mind without any backstory to it then I consider I'm off to a pretty good start.
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Offline ArcaneArtsVelho

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Re: Plotting backwards
« Reply #34 on: March 30, 2015, 09:06:42 AM »
I don't start at the end, but I don't start until I know the end. I'm a Snowflake Method writer, for the most part.

Like you, inspiration often starts with a character in a particular situation (though not always the climax).  I expand the inspiration scene backward and forward until I have the main plot points. From there, story planning becomes a dance between plot and character.

I don't go all the way down to the scene level with my planning because that never works out for me. Once I start writing, I *always* discover things and make tweaks to the plan. I rarely change the major plot points, but I never know how I'll get from one point to the next until I start writing. (James Scott Bell calls this the "Headlights Method" because you know where you are going, but you don't see the details until you reach that part of the story.)

This has been an interesting thread. Thanks for starting it. I love reading about how other authors assemble their stories, and I'm always looking for ways to improve my process.
This^ is pretty much what I did with my WIP (or rather WTBTO, work-to-be-totally-overhauled). I planned, in just a few words, what the situation is at the beginning and at the end of the story. Then I planned what happens in the middle point. Then I filled in the bigger things that needed to happen between/around those points, iterating a few times to get even smaller things in. (I suppose that's in a sense like the Snowflake Method.)

At the end of the iterations, I had almost all the scenes roughly planned. At that point, it was quite easy to divide them in to chapters and just start writing. (You can even add target/estimated word or page counts if you are worried about the length of your story.) And even though I'm going to heavily redo at least parts of the story, the outline spreadsheet I made in my original planning makes it easy to add, delete, and change things.

I'm a planner, not really a doer. So I guess that's why this method works for me. :-\
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