Plotting backward might seem counter intuitive when you’re plotting a book. After all, isn’t the object to go from front to back?
Plotting backward is a great tool for jumpstarting writer’s block. If you’re stuck and can’t push through the wall holding you back, jump to the next scene you know you can write. Work backward from that spot. What’s the next thing that has to happen before that scene? Start a list and write it down. Now, what has to happen before that scene? Add it to the list. Continue working backward until you reach the spot where you were stuck. Reorder the list. You now have a mini outline on how to write forward.
Plotting backward can work on an entire novel, as well. It is a logical step for structuring a mystery novel. After all, you know who the killer is, his motive for the crime and the clue he left behind that the detective uses to catch him. Back to front, it’s an obvious method for plotting this genre.
My first book (which will never see the light of day or the inside of a Kindle) started with the climactic scene. I woke from a dream with the Big, Black Moment so vivid; I knew I had to write the book. Working backward (and sometimes sideways), I finished a four hundred page writing exercise.
If you know the ending of your story, begin with the end and list what happens before the final scene. Using the plotting backward steps, continue building the list until you’ve plotted your way to the beginning.
The above is an excerpt from The Plot Thickens, 21 Ways to Plot Your Novel, available on Amazon.
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The first time she stepped into the pages of a book, she delivered a baby boy.
When graduate student nurse Annie Faraday enters books to deliver babies, she blames the illusions on multiple stresses. Her fiancé fights in the bloodiest battles in the Pacific Theater; her family is falling apart; and her boss, who is also her future father-in-law, controls whether she graduates from nursing school.
Now, with the end of the war within tantalizing reach, and the return of her beloved Jimmy, she can no longer find excuses for her visions. She must dig deep into her family’s unspeakable past to discover whether she’s traveling into an alternate world, or following the trail of insanity blazed by her mother. Which is real?
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