Where do I start in writing a novel? Answer: As close to the end as possible.

Where do I start in writing a novel? Answer: As close to the end as possible.

Where  should you start when you are writing your story? That is a question that every author must answer for every book they write. You want your reader to know the reasons your characters are the way you are making them, and to do this you might feel it is necessary to tell your protagonist’s background up front. You want your reader to know the whys. But is this really necessary? Everybody has history, the things in their lives that make them who they are. But Is that important when you first meet them? Do you question them to find out why they act the way they do? Of course not.

If someone came up to you and said, “Hi, my name is Bob and I want to tell you my full history so you can understand me.” You might think he was weird or even crazy. So why does the reader need to know everything about your character up front? Your reader, like you, enjoys the journey of discovery. When you meet someone, you learn about them over time, in bits and pieces. And that is how your reader should learn about their new friends, the ones in your novel. Feed your reader their background one card at a time. Let them discover who your character is, as needed.

My first pass at Fatal Transaction was filled with back story. I wanted the reader to know everything I did about Derry, who he was, why he was the way he was and so on. I had built a long and in-depth history for this man. When I showed the book to a publisher, she told me to “start as near to the end of the story as possible”. It was the best piece of advice I could have received on my writing. The rewrite came out clearer, faster paced, and more precise. In other words, a far better story.