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Arriving at Creative Writing Solutions by Thinking Backwards
January 17, 2007
Here is a neat little trick I have employed all my life in resolving problems, in realizing goals, and finally as a tool for crafting fiction. I call it reverse plotting but it is in effect the act of thinking backwards to arrive at solutions.
I can best illustrate its power by showing you how I used it to create the basic storyline for my first novella.
I had always wanted to have a crack at writing a murder mystery and in line with my policy of sticking to scenarios with which I am familiar I used the theatre as the setting for Beginners Please: Murder.
Now there is a world of difference between wanting to craft a mystery story and actually accomplishing it. I could have of course gone the route of pulling down a ready-made plot from the internet (there are hundreds freely available for download) but I was not looking for an easy solution; I was determined to devise my own original outline.
All I had going for me when I started out was the concept of a repertory company based in a creaky old theatre in North Yorkshire during the late 1940s. The actor/manager is brutally murdered and the police narrow their suspects down to the youngest cast member. He is arrested on suspicion of homicide but one of the senior players in the company is convinced that the police have got it wrong and she sets out to prove the innocence of her colleague.
Seems straightforward ¡V but how would I get from A to Z first time out of the trap on writing a murder mystery?
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Here is what I did using my little exercise in inverted thinking¡K
1. I started by turning the situation on its head;
„X Twist in the tale reveals the real murderer
Now by turning these events on their head I have a storyline to make my outcome materialize.
1. Provincial repertory company converges on theatre for opening of winter season;
How inverted thinking works
It forces your brain to think outside the box and stimulates action by focusing your thoughts on the outcome before tackling the daunting task of providing a solution. Moreover, doing it this way in reverse order prompts the thought process to add to the list as you progress; much more easily in fact than producing the events in conventional sequence.
It works in other ways too
I used inverted thinking to help me craft my first murder mystery but it works equally well when applied to any fictional storyline.
If you would like to learn a host of other inventive ways to boost your creative writing output you should visit this website.
Happy New Year!
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