Weekly Writing Challenge: Backward
We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to help you push your writing boundaries and explore new ideas, subjects, and writing styles.
To participate, tag your post with DPchallenge and include a link to this post, to generate a pingback and help others find the challenges. Please make sure your post has been specifically written in response to this challenge. We’ll highlight some of our favorites on Freshly Pressed on Friday, and in our monthly newsletter.
Be kind, don’t rewind
We’re taught to think that a well-told story — fictional or not — starts with A, goes on to B, and ends with Z. We automatically follow the rule established by the King of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:
The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. ‘Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?’ he asked.
‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’
(Louis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
For this Writing Challenge, we’re asking you to disobey the King.
Sure — logical, clean order has its virtues. So does a bit of chaos, though (every once in a while). Instead of starting at your story’s Big Bang, drop us off right at the End of Time: the final line of a conversation, the last, dramatic moment of a journey, the messy aftermath of a wild night out. Then, devote the rest of your post to showing us how you got there.
True, you won’t surprise us — at least not in the traditional sense. This is an exercise in control: the pace in which you reveal important information, the richness of the details you provide and that keep us engaged. Your readers’ pleasure will depend on these qualities, not on the (cheap?) thrill of finding out what actually happens in the end.
You can start at the end, and then lead us straight back to a traditionally ordered sequence of events (it worked for Citizen Kane). Or you can give us the full Memento treatment and take us backward one step at a time to the very origin of your story. Whatever works: just hook your readers with a powerful conclusion (that comes first!), and then captivate them with the story of how it came to pass.
Are you burning with desire to start writing? Go for it! Still in need of some ideas? How about one of the following:
- Show us a picture and tell us the story of how it became possible to take it.
- Share a major life decision you’ve taken, and then walk us through the decision-making process.
- Tell us how you’ve lost, broken, or destroyed an object that was meaningful to you, then describe how it obtained its significance.
- Describe a dramatic confrontation you witnessed (or in which you took part), then lead us through the signs that should have told you it was inevitable.
You may also enjoy:
- Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write
- Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember
- Weekly Writing Challenge: A Pinch of You