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  1. #1
    zeplin 44
    Guest

    Last chapter 1st?

    I read an advice piece recently wherein a writer recommended writing the last chapter of a new novel first.

    The idea being that facing the blank page of the last chapter would be easier than the blank page of the 1st chapter.

    By writing the ending 1st, you know where the book is going and you can then guide the rest of the book in that direction.

    Anyone ever tried it?



  2. #2
    jayce
    Guest

    Re: Last chapter 1st?

    I've never written the entire last chapter before starting out, but I do have the closing action in mind, as well as the turning points between acts I- II and II-III. These serve as my check points along the way, lest the characters hi-jack the story and run away with it.

  3. #3
    JC
    Guest

    Re: Last chapter 1st?

    I always write out my last chapter first as well as five or six scenes that are major events in the novel. No matter how hard I try, I can't write beginning to end. It's always a chapter here, a chapter there, then smooth the lines together.

  4. #4
    gulliver h
    Guest

    Re: Last chapter 1st?

    sorry, that just sounds dumb to me.

    A book always changes in the process. Again and again. Becoming married (from the start) to an arbitrary ending seems silly in the extreme.

    (and if the book doesn't change in the process of writing it, I'd question that too)

  5. #5
    JC
    Guest

    Re: Last chapter 1st?

    It's no dumber than doing it any other way. Just because you have a certain ending in mind doesn't mean the storyline is going to be static. There are a hundred ways to get from point A to point B.

    I figure, give my characters a general idea of where they're going, what they've got to work with, and who their enemies are, and let them do the rest. Otherwise, they're just plugging along wasting my laptop's memory. No destination kind of keeps them spinning in circles (at least in my writing). And if I come up with a better ending later...there's always the delete key.

  6. #6
    Smiling Curmudgeon
    Guest

    Re: Last chapter 1st?

    Seems to me the only sensible approach is---the one that works for any given writer.

    Nothing wrong with trying different ways of getting from the opening sentence to the last.

    cur

  7. #7
    gulliver h
    Guest

    Re: Last chapter 1st?

    and that's what makes a horse race!

    (in some ways, I envy that approach. Mine is much more disorganized.)

  8. #8
    Steven Labri
    Guest

    Re: Last chapter 1st?


    I believe what it means is you need to have an idea what your story is about, and an idea of how it will end. Then you need to understand what you are going to put in the middle. Depending on the genre, this could be simple or incredibly difficult. One thing I know is a story is a living and breathing thing. It will change as your emotions and experiences change. I canít tell you the number of times I heard a conversation and thought, ďI could use this!Ē

    Gulliver brings an excellent point, ďA book always changes in the process. Again and again.Ē It does for many. Some can write in formula and present it all at once. I canít. The whole point is that you need to do what feels right for you. After all, itís your story.

  9. #9
    gulliver h
    Guest

    Re: Last chapter 1st?

    Nothing ever ends up the way I think it might. I stopped imposing ideas on stories a while ago. Infuriating but freeing. It will go where it wants and then later, I will fix it...but I always find that the story winds up exactly where it needs to be, and more mysteriously still...that the ideas and hidden clues and direction markers were seeded in there all along, it was just my conscious brain's stupidity not to be able to see them to begin with...

    (what's that great Hemingway quote? He'd lost a manuscript on a train in Europe, his only copy, and when people asked if he planned to rewrite it, he said: Of course not. I already know how it ends...)

  10. #10
    Anthony Ravenscroft
    Guest

    the refractory moment

    I think it's necessary to have something to write toward. That could be a matter of writing out the last chapter (or story ending), or simply envisioning it.

    Even then, there's often a sort of "when the dust settles" section/chapter afterward, which might even present important details that put an entirely different spin on the foregoing.

    Depends what you mean, too. I knew the direction I was going with my novel. There were five or six chapters after that point, because the point of the book was not the resolution of the murder, but the narrator's discovery of his place in a new culture -- solving the murder made that possible.

    Only a pedant or obsessive would write out their target or structure, & then refuse to make corrections as the piece evolves. Sorry, G, but that's a strawman I've seen tossed out too many times by the "structure would stifle my Muse" crowd. If thrashing-about works better for you, then mazel tov, but I've seen too many presentations of "outlining didn't work for me when I tried it once thirty years ago, so I'll never do it again & neither should you -- now I write to find out what happens, & mostly I write far less than when I was outlining, but now I know it'll be better if I ever finish anything."

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