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Beginning, Middle or End. Which Do You Write First?

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Beginning, Middle or End. Which Do You Write First?

 

The title says it all. When you're starting/about to start writing a new story, what do you tackle first? The Beginning? The Middle? Or the End?

 

I know that everyone has their own approach when it comes to writing, and it could very well differ from story to story. But I'm interested to hear from others about their process. Just a little side note, this isn't how you plan your story/novel. But assuming that you do like to plan, @Rumpelstiltskin has written an amazing guide that I totally recommend you check out, which can be found +HERE!

 

Speaking for myself, when thinking up the premise for Golden Girl, I knew how I wanted it to end before even putting pen-to-paper (cause I'm old school like that). It's very badly written; mainly because I wrote it all the way back in 2011 (yes, I've sat on this idea for 8 years). But that ending hasn't changed. Obviously, if I ever actually do finish Golden Girl (which I really hope I do), it will have to be reworked, but that idea is still that same.

I guess what I'm really asking is if I'm alone in using this strategy? Or are there some that tackle the middle of their story first? If so, why? Tell me all. Surely there are some others out there, not just me, that do things back-to-front and inside-out..

 

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Oregonian

I rarely start writing the beginning first.  For a short story, I start by rapidly jotting down a series of sentences outlining how the story will unfold, but as I do this, I find myself writing more and more expansively, probably simply because the writing of the outline sentences pulls me into the world of the story and the details and elaborations just blossom.  As a result, by the time I am partway into the story (the "middle"), I'm in full writing mode.  Later, when I see how the story is approaching its final form, I will go back and write a fleshed-out beginning that conforms to what the story turned out to be.

 

If it's a longer story, I do a lot of blocking out scenes in my head, with memorized sequences of events, dialogue, descriptions, etc., for scenes that will appear far into the story, but I hesitate to put them to paper until the physical writing has reached that point in the tale.  Not sure why, maybe it's a fear that if I did, I would lose my focus, but inside my head many parts of the story exist simultaneously, because when a good idea suddenly pops into your brand, you gotta grab it.  These inchoate scenes will often require a fair amount of research when I get around to writing them in final form, to get the details accurate, which is why I keep them in my head until I'm ready to give them a lot of attention and time.

 

I almost always know how my story will end before I start writing because I like to have a good, solid ending. Yeah, I guess I sometimes know the ending before anything else.  Like the punchline of a joke, a solid ending gives the story a lasting meaning that sticks with the reader.  When I haven't done that, the story just sort of peters out and is unremarkable.

 

Thanks for starting this topic.  People's minds work so differently -- it's interesting to see all the variations.

 

Vicki

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grumpy cat

i don't know about my oneshots, they weren't planned out so...but for TAOBN i knew how the story was going to start and i knew how it was going to end before i started writing it. so no middle part for me except for a very vague idea of it :P

but even with knowing the end i can't make myself write it. it just feels weird, maybe because i can't write out of order and i'm honestly in awe of people who do :o

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MrsDarcy

With ACC I definitely started with the beginning, but only because I had no clue what the plot would be. It sort of developed from that. All my ideas begin with dialogue and I've written some future scenes that are pretty raw - that way I jump around a lot, but I only have a vague of what is going to happen, which can easily change. The last couple of months I've been more concerned with just writing chronologically and let events unfold from that

So my strategy has kinda changed and I don't actually know how my story will end yet :hmm:

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ReillyJade

My brain doesn't let me start anywhere but the beginning. I remember once, years ago, trying to start in the middle because I had a scene very vividly in my head that I just wanted to get on paper (er... screen). That lone scene has been neglected ever since, stored on an old flash drive that's probably at the bottom of my odds-and-ends drawer. I just couldn't figure out how to build around it, and gave up on it almost as quickly as it started.

So, since then, I made a compromise. Since most of my stories grow from an idea for a moment (a scene which most often falls naturally in the middle or at the end of story), I write an outline first. If I feel like I absolutely have to write out something for that one scene, I put together an outline and make sure I have the bare bones of a beginning, middle, and end before I start writing. This seems to work for me, even for one-shots. 

I really envy those of you that can start in the middle or at the end, though. I wish I could work like that! 

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magemadi

For me, I can only write beginning-middle-end, no matter what ideas I've got in my head. Even when I was re-planning my novel (twice!) I still methodically went through it from the beginning. Sometimes I'll have ideas for scenes that would usually fall in the middle of a story, so I just end up writing that "scene" out and call it a day because I refuse to attempt to work around it then. :P 

Sometimes I'd like to be able to work from end-middle-beginning or some other order of events, but I just can't do it yet! That's also why it's taking me forever to get started on my OF....

But yeah I think it's so cool when other people can write an entire story from this one scene that happens in the middle! Y'all are just great writers, period. ^_^ 

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CheekyTorah-Lex

I always write the timeline of the story bullet points and then dialogue first, then fill in with narrative and extra pieces of info I am missing, little twists, minute  details etc

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ForbiddenBeauty

For me, this differ very much from story to story and depends on where the inspiration strike. However, usually it either begins with the beginning or the end. A specific scene would form in my head and it would either be the final scene of a story I need to write, to know how it ended up that way, or it embodied the premise and beginning. 

If it is the end that the scene turns out to be, I tend to do one of two things.

1) Write 'backwards' so to speak. I write whatever let up to the scene and then what let up to that and so on.

2) I just write the finale scene and then jump right back to the beginning of the whole thing and then write from A to Z.

When I have the beginning (the premise of the story) I just write from there and go the where the pen take me. An example of this is my one-shot Dramione collection "The Holidays". That started as a one-shot Halloween Dramione fanfic, because I got the idea of Draco catching Hermione in her animagus form. 

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beyond the rain

It definitely varies story to story. Raising Helena started at the beginning, the end is heavily planned (with several outcomes I haven't decided on yet) - and the middle is anyone's game. I've started writing a prequel to RH - and I started with the middle just because I had an idea that wouldn't quit. Then I wrote the first chapter, and now I'm left with bits and pieces of random nonsense. I have never started writing the ending first, but who knows, it might happen someday!

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magnifique

I don't think I know how to write anything unless it's from the beginning - but at the same time, I know there have been a few times where I'll get a snippet of the middle/end of a story before I even start it and so I'll write that scene and then I'll loop around back to the beginning and properly start + meet in the middle so to speak once I reach the part I already wrote. Sometimes it still fits and sometimes it doesn't fit at all, but really I just like starting wherever I get that first spark of an idea and rolling with it! I used to try to be really rigid with this when I was younger and thought there was a "right" vs" wrong" way to write a story but thankfully i got over that 😂 and now as long as I'm enjoying what I'm writing and it makes sense eventually I figure it's okay to start wherever. ❤️ 

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shadowycorner

I think chronological writing is the best, but it's good to have an ending figured out.

I ALMOST NEVER HAVE AN ENDING AND IT IS SO FRUSTRATING because I believe that having something to look forward to and fight for helps you with writing. Usually there is a point throughout the story I am hyped to write, but it's not like I am dutifully on a writing path to get there, I just skip ahead and make gaping holes in the story that I tend to fall into on my way back :D

I honestly think that having an ending in mind, or a final direction, is vital to completing a story. Even if the ending changes as you write, cause your story's always evolving right? Therefore I think the usual structure of writing chronologically makes more sense to me, because it's similar to reading, you keep discovering and unfolding the story, gradually getting more and more into it.

If there is a scene I really want to write but I haven't got to it yet, I tend to just rant about it in my journals or write it down on paper, which feels less official than on a computer and I still get to keep the feeling of writing chronoligcally.

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TreacleTart

I generally have at least an idea for the ending of a story when I start writing because without an ending point how will I know which direction I want to go? Usually the ending is sort of what sparks the idea and then from there, I start building the mid point. After I have a start, midpoint, and end, it feels easy enough to fill in the details from there. 

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VaguelyCreativeName

It's super fun to get a look at everyone's working process!

Personally, I can't not start at the beginning, anything else feels super alien to me! Even if my inspiration for a story happens to be a scene somewhere in the middle, I have to work my way towards it - depending on how long it's going to be, I might make a note of how I envisioned that scene, but that's usually limited to a few bullet points about the general mood, and maybe, maybe a particular phrase, but it's a rare occasion that I'll actually flesh it out and write the scene before I get there naturally. Also, by that point, the scene I actually end up writing might be quite different from the one that first popped into my head!

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nott theodore

Visiting this thread in the hopes that people can teach me how to plan :P

I very, very rarely write anything from the middle of the story before I've either written the beginning or the end.  Usually when I have an idea, I'll have certain scenes in mind, and if it's a longer story then I absolutely have to know the ending to have any idea of how I'm going to get there - kind of like it helps me imagine finishing it, if that makes sense?  The beginning of the story (especially novels) is something that I tend to struggle with a rewrite a lot, because I want to get it perfect, whereas by the time I've reached the end of something longer I feel like I know the story/characters better, so it's easier to write.

When I was working on Jigsaw, I had multiple drafts of the first chapter, but the scene that I wrote for the final chapter (when I was still plotting the story, mainly) is one that stayed almost the same in the final novel.  So I guess it depends on the story (for one-shots I just write and hope, basically) but if it's a longer story I have an end point in sight and either start by writing a draft of that or one of several eventual versions of the beginning?

(The fact that I pay so little attention to the middle is probably why I have so much trouble plotting and writing, oops.)

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