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Thread: Order of writing chapters - last first?


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Permlink Replies: 11 - Pages: 1 - Last Post: Oct 15, 2017 2:29 AM Last Post By: Notjohn Threads: [ Previous | Next ]
paulross25

Posts: 30
Registered: 07/03/12
Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 1:08 AM
 
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I am thinking of writing my last chapters first. I have always written each chapter as it happens, but the last chapter of book 4 in the series, (Vampire Formula - writing books 3 and 4 together) is also the final book in the series, I want to write the last chapters first.

Why?

Everything has the been building up to the last few chapters. By writing them first I am hoping to achieve a few things

1 - Make sure the have everything in terms of conclusions. I have total focus and can work back.
2 - Probably the most exciting chapters to write, hence I don't want to rush to get them and ruin the setup. This hopefully lets me take my time with the build up rather than looking forward to best bits.
3 - Doing the last chapters first will give me encouragement to finish the whole book as I know the end goal.
4 - can spend time when I still have plenty of energy to get the ending right.

I know all the chapters are important and I will enjoy them to. But there are always certain scenes I look forward to writing. The big pay off or the shocking twist. The candy bar scene I have heard them being called.

However, I also see the cons in not writing linear.
Writing in order ensure the flow of continuity. Sometimes in writing, the story elements change as the characters interact and you realise things would be different.
I have been considering the last chapters in my mind for a long time, so hopefully nothing would alter too much.

Any thought or feedback? Has anyone else every written their chapters out of order?

regards

P.A. Ross
Diana Persaud

Posts: 2,457
Registered: 10/07/13
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 9:39 AM   in response to: paulross25 in response to: paulross25
 
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It doesn't really matter the order in which you write your book because the final product (should be) will be in order.

I believe mystery writers usually start with the ending first.

I sometimes write out of sequence. This is why Scrivener is such a god send!
uncle1282

Posts: 1,279
Registered: 12/20/10
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 12:00 PM   in response to: paulross25 in response to: paulross25
 
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I admire writers who can do this, just as I admire chicks who can down bloody mary's while standing on their head, or walking the dog backwards, or reading the last chapter in a book first.

All I can say is whatever works for you. For me writing the last chapter isn't possible because I purposely don't want to know how things end; I want to write along the story just as the reader reads along it, and enjoy a similar page-turning enthusiasm.
jtm1048

Posts: 309
Registered: 01/11/09
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 12:37 PM   in response to: paulross25 in response to: paulross25
 
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Nothing wrong with that. I tend to write out of sequence myself, frequently jumping ahead, or back, adding a detail here, cutting something there. I frequently put in every chapter title and a brief note about what's supposed to happen in it before I start writing the book, then actually write the chapters in whatever order the Muse seems to direct. There's probably some extra editing with this, of course, because sometimes I forget I've already used a particular bit of exposition and have to remove it during editing, or find I need to add it earlier and drop the first use. Occasionally, I just give up for 20 or 30 years, then pick it up again and, finally, it works.
C. Gold

Posts: 346
Registered: 02/17/15
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 7, 2017 1:07 PM   in response to: paulross25 in response to: paulross25
 
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I knew the end to my story but not the specifics. Had I tried writing a complete ending first, it would have lacked so much I developed along the way and would have required a rewrite. I had no clue some stuff would happen, so even the epilogue would have lacked so much. But I figure things out as I write with only vague data points to light the way. If you are an up front plot developer, then it might not be as bad for you to write anywhere in the story. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you are putting words to the page. You still need to work out what works for you, so write your ending and see if that informs your story or limits it. Either way, you'll have a better idea of how you need to write the next time.
William D Jempt...

Posts: 426
Registered: 03/31/14
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 8, 2017 4:43 PM   in response to: jtm1048 in response to: jtm1048
 
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jtm1048 wrote:
There's probably some extra editing with this, of course, because sometimes I forget I've already used a particular bit of exposition and have to remove it during editing, or find I need to add it earlier and drop the first use. Occasionally, I just give up for 20 or 30 years, then pick it up again and, finally, it works.

Two of my most recently published ebooks were left unfinished for a decade or more. The first was a spin-off of a story I wrote right after a 2004 hurricane. I don't know why I didn't finish it. When I returned to it this spring, it was surprisingly easy to get back into the story and complete it.

My second long shelved story, or PB was written in 2006. I wrote the ending early on. The two main characters get killed by someone who has been stalking one of them. I didn't have trouble getting into PB once I got back working on it. PB has drawn more reviews at Amazon.com than only 2 other stories of mine and ranks #4 of my ebooks for sales. The book's big event is foreshadowed but boy did I get some readers angry. My two best sellers have seen their share of angry or annoyed readers. I think getting them pissed at me increases my sale. LOL.

Even though the ending of PB was written early on, it didn't need much modification.
Lazarian Wordsm...

Posts: 190
Registered: 04/28/14
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 9, 2017 8:09 AM   in response to: paulross25 in response to: paulross25
 
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Paul in two of my books I wrote the last para early - when I knew where the book was going and how I wanted to end it.
Wicker Wood in last page I reveal something that changes the whole theme of the book - and makes way for a sequel.
In Here Lies the end para will reveal a twist that means some of the book was all a dream......in the astral plane - and this early scene changes history.

Pat
Moshe Ben-Or

Posts: 376
Registered: 12/28/15
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 9, 2017 2:23 PM   in response to: paulross25 in response to: paulross25
 
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I have never in my life written a single thing in sequence. Tried once or twice, and it all came out bad. To each his own.
resteasy

Posts: 725
Registered: 07/02/12
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 9, 2017 5:27 PM   in response to: paulross25 in response to: paulross25
 
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I've never tried writing the ending first. I map out a rough plan of the story from beginning to end, but the characters as I start writing take me in entirely new directions, surprising me along the way and how they interact for the ending. I think absolutely knowing the outcome from start hinders flexibility in the narrative. Having said that, flashback stories often begin with the end, and they can work brilliantly. So knowing the ending there is essential. But then you still need to construct how it began, and the characters might alter your ending. There's a hole in my bucket.
Natasja

Posts: 126
Registered: 01/26/16
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 10, 2017 10:50 PM   in response to: paulross25 in response to: paulross25
 
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I write the beginning and the end, then I have a seperate file that has all the ideas/scenes that come to me out of order. It's a draft; it can be edited later.
Patrick A. Smith

Posts: 1,691
Registered: 04/27/13
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 14, 2017 10:03 AM   in response to: paulross25 in response to: paulross25
 
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I make chapter headings in order titled by the events, and the book I'm working on now has my ideas and some dialogue in about every chapter, and two slightly different endings are already in place. I love writing the individual chapters and scenes in MS Word auto TOC because I can move them around, I.E. move chapter 14 up between chapters 3 and 4.
Notjohn

Posts: 22,596
Registered: 02/27/13
Re: Order of writing chapters - last first?
Posted: Oct 15, 2017 2:29 AM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
 
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I admire chicks who can down bloody mary's while standing on their head,

Do you meet many of those?

My favorite airline is Lufthansa. Coming back from Munich (or was it Frankfurt?) last spring, I asked the drinks lady for Bloody Mary Mix, my favorite morning drink. She brought me the whole Bloody Mary! No charge!

@OP: John Irving claims he always writes the last SENTENCE first. Never heard of anyone's writing the last chapter. Seems to me it puts you in a straightjacket. What if characters evolve and strange things happen?

Indeed, I suspect that the master of macho thrillers, the Englishman who writes as Lee Child about Jack Reacher, the ultimate American Man, just writes whatever comes into his head until he gets to page 350. Then he goes back and puts in stuff that makes the ending make sense, even if this means inventing a new character.

(Don't trust KDP to publish a print edition. Don't trust CreateSpace to publish an ebook.)

Good luck! -- NJ

Notjohn's Guide to E-Book & Print Formatting

The blog:
http://notjohnkdp.blogspot.com
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