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Monday, June 15, 2015

Stuck? Write the ending and work backwards.

When the protagonist from my novel I Will Follow, Jude, first arrived in Austin, I hit a wall of writer's block so hard I had a mild concussion and couldn't remember how to tie my shoes for a week. You see, being the shoot-from-the-hip writer I am, I started my novel with no outline or any particular sense of direction. I had the story in my head, and I just ran out of the gate. I know that it's incredibly unprofessional, but at the time I couldn't be bothered with such nuances like outlines or character development. Sometimes, ya just gotta go for it.

Well, as Jude pulled into Austin, my train of thought pulled off the tracks. I knew more or less what was going to happen to him and where he would end up at the end of his journey, but since I hadn't bothered to map out the trek stop by stop, I was at a loss. So there my hero sat. A man without a destination and hopelessly doomed to trudge around the Texas capital with nary a smidgen of a clue as to what he was supposed to be doing.

Realizing that I had to get Jude going soon or risk slowing my progress even further, I resorted to an old, tried and true tactic: I wrote the ending to my book and went backwards. 

Now, in the interest of maintaining the mystery of any reader who truly wishes to read my book, (and thank you for that), I won't reveal just how the book ends. Sufficed to say that it culminates in a very serious, very traumatic event that wrenches every ounce of strength and courage out of every character involved. I haven't posted the ending anywhere yet, but it'll be done soon. 

In any event, seeing how the climax of my novel played out kickstarted my inspiration and I began to understand the chain of events that would lead up to the final chapter. I then retrofitted Jude's journey to reflect the path that he would have to take to wind up there. It worked quite well, actually. 

Again, had I actually outlined and planned my novel, I probably could have avoided this, but I recommend this step regardless of whether you have mapped out every step or not. It'll enlighten you and your characters greatly. 

Until next time, keep those keyboards warm. 


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