Hello again, Mythcreants, I hope you are well!
Recently, I’ve been trying hard to formulate a good plot, and I’ve resorted to multiple writing websites and resources to look for tips from already successful authors.
One tip I’ve encountered is that the best way to make a good story is to start from the ending, which I’ve found extremely difficult.
Is this tip true or helpful? If it’s not, is there anything you recommend to get started with a plot?
Thanks for your time,
Hey Murphie, great to hear from you again!
The short answer is no: you don’t have to plot your story by starting at the end. A slightly longer answer is that such tips fall under what we call “process advice,” anything that tells you how to write your story rather than what needs to be in the story. While process advice can sometimes be useful, it’s also very dependent on an individual and their writing style. Starting from the end works for some people, as it lets them know where their story is going. But from other people, plotting a story in reverse is just off-putting, or they can’t even guess where their story ends because they don’t know how it starts yet.
The main advice I always give when writers are struggling with their plots is to focus on the throughline first. We have entire articles on throughlines, but here’s the short version: the throughline is the conflict that ties your story together. It’s a problem introduced at the beginning, drives the plot through the middle, and is resolved in the climax. Starting with the throughline has a couple advantages.
First, the vast majority of stories need a strong throughline anyway, so starting with one can save you the work of going back to create one later. Second, if you know what kind of throughline you want, it’s much easier to build the rest of the story. Is your throughline about an unlikely heir taking the throne? You know the beginning will be the heir finding out that they’re next in line, the middle will be fighting against rivals, and the end will be them securely taking the throne. If your throughline is solving a murder, then the beginning might be finding the body, the middle will be collecting clues, and the end will be catching the killer.
As for what throughline you want, that’s entirely up to you and what you want to write. We also have a few more articles that might help you with specifics.
Hope that answers your question, and good luck with your story!