Writing Backwards

In 1842 Charles Dickens, in correspondence with Edgar Allan Poe, noted that when the author William Godwin wrote ‘Caleb Williams’ that he wrote backwards. He started by ‘first involving his hero in a web of difficulties and then casting about for some mode of accounting for what had been done.’ (The Philosophy of Composition 1846)

Likewise, Pierre Boulle who wrote Planet of the Apes as well as The Bridge Over the River Kwai, started by writing the final chapter of his books and then working backwards.

Try writing your story from end to beginning. Start at the end, then ask yourself ‘How did I get here?’ Picture the action and choices that led you to this moment and watch as your story emerges. (This technique also works with individual scenes.)

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