Write the Beginning...Last

Okay, so I don't think it's a huge secret that I'm a bit on the unconventional side when it comes to writing. I don't outline, I don't name characters until halfway through books, I switch up eye colors, etc. (BTW, all that gets fixed eventually. My first drafts are nightmares.)

Writing the beginning is no different. It's simple really. Don't write it first.

Now I don't necessarily write my beginning last, but I don't stress about writing it straight out of the gate either. Let me explain.

So I don't write in order. The first scene I wrote in POSSESSION shows up in the book on page 130. The second scene I wrote is the one before that one. And the third scene appears about page 45.

I don't worry about when I write the scenes. I worry about where they go in the story and how they fit with what else I've got. I worry about stitching them together with transitions. I worry about what needs to happen earlier in the book so that the scene I just wrote will make sense. And so I piece together my scenes, writing notes in between them for what needs to happen, and possible ideas for what could happen later.

I write what's in my head, and nothing more. Beginning, middle, end. Doesn't matter when it gets on the page, just that it does.

Unconventional, I know.

But I think there's something to be learned here. Beginnings do not have to be written first. Don't know your beginning? No problem. Write what you do know. You can work backward to the opening scene at any time.

When do you write your beginning? Are you able to write without having that opening scene down on paper?


M. Dunham said...

I might have a 'beginning' written down, but what ends up being my actual story beginning doesn't get tamped down until I'm done writing my entire book. The reason is when I learned about persuasive writing in school, there was an emphasis on how the beginning and end should mirror each other. The advice we received in school has influenced quite a bit of my storytelling, because I find so much of it holds true even in fiction.

Now, I don't make my beginning and end the exact same, but the beginning needs to have some element that reflects all the way to the end. Like a string that runs through the entire piece. I find once I reach the story's end, the string becomes clear.

Also, knowing where it ends helps me define and understand where the story really began for my character.

Kim Perrone said...

Wow! We have nearly the same modus operandi! No outline...although I might outline after the fact just to see if it all makes sense. My eye colors change and many of my names do, too. However, I do start my work with the beginning. The funny thing is, by the time I've finalized the manuscript the beginning looks NOTHING like it originally did.

Kelley Lynn said...

I write the beginning first. But after the manuscript is finished and I do my first, second, eighth edits, it changes quite a bit. I understand my characters more, etc.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Yesterday I went back, and wrote the beginning. Now that I know my characters so well. It just came so easy.

Paul Greci said...

Not being tied to starting with the beginning can give a certain amount of freedom to you as you write your story, and I think, prevent what is often perceived as writer's block. That said, I often start with the beginning because that is often how my story ideas come to me--with a beginning--but that beginning often changes somewhere down the line...

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