This One’s For Writers And Readers…

Was chatting to a girlfriend the other day about a new book we were both reading and she said, ‘Yeah, so I read the back page…I know what happens.

‘Excuse me?’

What’s with that? If you already know that Johnny (imaginary main character) dies in the end, aren’t you less likely to read the entire book …or any of it?

She shrugged. ‘It’s what I do. I need to know.

So, I’ll get to my point: Before starting a new book, do you read the back page first? And if so, why?

Is the suspense killing you?

Or perhaps you don’t like surprises?

I really want to know, because while I have been called a control freak (on many occasions, come to think of it), when reading, I’m happy to go with the flow and hopefully be surprised and entertained along the way.


Now, then, about the writing…as people who read my blogs know, I’m a pantser…I start with a character, write the first line and take it from there, often getting stuck at 20, 40, 60,000 words and then somehow having to weasel my way through the mess to construct a coherent story.
Then there are plotters, who meticulously plan story arcs, character traits…they know exactly how their story will unfold…
And then there are writing Gods like John Irving (Last Night in Twisted River, The World According to Garp) who write the last sentence first and work their way back from there.
Irving says, ‘It always works like that for me. I begin with a last sentence and that sentence never gets changed. First sentences change all the time. Sometimes first chapters become fifth chapters, but last sentences have never changed – not a word, not a comma. They stay fixed.’
An interesting sidenote, Irving wrote the first sentence of Last Night in Twisted River, seven months after writing the last sentence.
He says ‘That’s fast for me. I often don’t get to the first sentence in under a year.’
Wacko! (As in Irving has an unusual and original writing process, not that he’s a madman.)
Am fascinated by the idea but just can’t figure out how to go about it.
And then, he died.

The End.

I guess I could work with that…
Who died? Why did he die? What happened before he died?
But I’m too impatient*. Too impatient to write backwards, too impatient to plot…I need to throw myself into the deep end and see where the writing takes me.

*But not so impatient as to read the last page of a new book, first!

2 thoughts on “This One’s For Writers And Readers…

  1. What’s the point of that? The only time might read a back page is if the book has lost my interest but I just want to see how it ends. I would never do it with a book that grips my attention and which are the only sort I read. When writing I don’t have the end planned out either and I dont talk about it till it is finished, otherwise I lose the impetus to write it. I read and I write to find out what happens.

  2. I regularly read the back pages first. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. I used to regularly read back pages before you’re strictly meant to read back pages. Only because I wanted to know if the heroine/hero got together and was worried they may not. I quite liked knowing I got my happy ever after.

    However I don’t do that any more. It was silly to read the back pages before I was supposed to and now I very rarely do it!! 🙂

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