I can’t write the end before I write the middle and I can’t get to the middle before I start writing. Or can I?
Maybe I’m limiting myself by these words. Maybe I can write a heart-rending last scene first. Perhaps I can get all the laughs by telling the punch-line right at the start. Possibly I can renew the world before I destroy it.
It’s worth a try.
I know that rom-coms usually end with the girl and the boy getting each other. I know that the middle contains endless difficulties that they have to overcome in order to reach their togetherness. And I know that they haven’t even met when the story starts.
“What, not one drop of poison left for me to wet my whistle so that I can die like what you did?”
Oops, wrong kind of play. This may be a romance, but it sure isn’t comedy. Or is it? What if he wakes up then, yawns and says (something like) “Blooming heck, this is some sort of heaven I’ve reached, for my love is before me and she lives and breathes and even though she’s only thirteen (look it up) I’m pretty sure …”
“Aw, shut up and kiss me you hunk!”
They kiss and the lights fade. And a good job too because they look like they’re going to have it off in the crypt. “Fain (that) I should adore thee, Mrs Ticklepants.” They are lost to rapture.
There’s stuff that leads to the end that should be easy to breadcrumb and then fill in because time’s arrow flying backwards is actually a lot more predictable than flying forwards. I mean, when you go backwards it’s already happened and so it’s just a matter of remembering what was. Makes you wonder why we write stories into the mysterious and unknowable future when you think about it.
And reaching the beginning is just as easy and predictable too. Job done!
I suppose you might say that it’s easy when it’s all been written by Shakespeare beforehand and you have a script that you can twist and amend like twisting and amending is all you ever wanted to do but that just proves my point. Shakespeare is in the past from this future, and we find it easy to go there and continue the story backwards from this ending, so why not do the same when you’re writing stories?
And that brings me on to another point; one that is not at all related to this script, but is still worth making: if you have a first draft of a story, in any shape at all, then your job is even easier. Because then you don’t even have to plagiarise on Shakespeare’s ass (forgive the vernacular). You can just plagiarise yourself; what could be easier!
So, to summarise: it’s worth starting at the end and working yourself backwards through the story you want to write.
And even if it doesn’t work out – you can use the printed pages to line your shirt when it gets cold in the winter and you can’t afford the heating because you quit your job to be a writer.
Such are the silvery paper-linings we dream of.