The Chicken or the Egg?

You start from the beginning, right? Or do you?

Basically, I had an epiphany: I was doing it all wrong.

Being a rather inexperienced writer, at least in the full-length, 400-page-novel field, I’ve admittedly had some trouble in finding my ‘mojo’ in this process. Although my YA fantasy novel (yet unttitled) now amounts to just over 31,000 words, these are all scattered from page 1 to 400 (if that’s where I’ll end up).

Now, first of all, it ought to be stressed that there is neither wrong nor right in the creative process. ‘Each to their own’ has never been more applicable, and that’s the way it should be. Nevertheless, this revelation of mine might be of help to others with similar troubles.

Here it is: it is true – you start from the beginning. There is no other place to begin a novel. Blank sheet/screen/note book – that’s where it happens. Of course that doesn’t specify where the beginning is!

And the magic of it all? My beginning was the end.

For months I have struggled with the opening, the middle part, the opening again – trying to find the right words, the right scenes, for the novel to eventually end up where I wanted it to end up.

How silly of me.

Realising that it was all futile work, and soon turned out to be a lot of hours thrown into the sea of nothingness, I quite simply turned to the place which sparked the idea in the first place – the resolution. The whole concept came from the final scenes, and those were the ones I had vividly pictured in my mind. So I decided to put those on paper before anything else would occur.

3/4 final chapters are now fully written, and although they will need heavy (I mean body-building level) editing, I feel so much more confident about them than the earlier chapters. Problems remain, the economy of the world still needs to be fully fleshed out, and I doubt that the final piece of text will look anything like the one now residing in my laptop.

No matter. It’s under way, and that’s the important thing.

I’m not sure how other writers go about it. Anthony Trollope wrote from chapter 1 to the last, with strict discipline. He went for the egg. That’s one way of doing it, and maybe that’s how the next novel will happen. For this particular work, however, it seemed appropriate to me to start with the chicken. Because that’s where my egg came from.

Like the philosophical riddle itself, there are as many answers as questions, and each writer will have a strategy which works for them.

I guess the point with this post is that creative writing does not obey many, if any, laws, and the wonder of it is the possibility of breaking the rules once in a while, or all the time.

Find your way, and follow it. Chicken or egg, as long as the story comes to life – you’re doing it right.

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