Chas Daugherty
Chas Daugherty asked Michael J. Sullivan:

Do you have an ending in mind when you start a book and write backwards or do you write as it comes to you?

Michael J. Sullivan Hey Chas, Thanks for asking a question. Here's what I do. Usually a book starts with a series of notes that may start accumulating over years (while I'm writing other books). An idea comes to me, I jot it down into a notebook and move on.

When it comes time to work on "that" book I spend some time going over the notes and filling in the holes. I have a definite start and a definite end, but those may not (and usually aren't) the final endpoints.

As I'm writing, new ideas will come to me which are better than I originally intended, so the ending may change. What I don't do is set off in a new direction until I know where that new end point will be.

After I get done with the whole thing, then I usually step back and evaluate if I can "raise it to the next level" this usually will mean some tweaks to the beginning and end. Often where I "thought" the story should start isn't right, and I see ways I can tweak the ending to make it more compelling (especially if in a series, where I might add a little "teaser" (you know, you've seen them at the end of movies sometimes where the credits roll but then there is one last scene which makes you go...ohhh what's up with that!

For the Riyria Reveltaions, I had 3 (or maybe it was 4 depending on how you count) potential endings. By the time I started writing it I had decided on one, that was "good" but I knew it wasn't perfect. It meant the death of some people that I didn't want to see go. As the time approached that I needed to start writing the ending, I kept turning things over in my mind...trying to find a "great" ending. Then it came to me. It was like a lightning bolt and I couldn't believe I didn't see it, as my unconscious mind had set everything up perfectly and it was just waiting for me to put the pieces together. Luckily, I hadn't released any of the book so I was able to go back to prior versions and make little thread adjustments and add a character here and there. There was no question that the ending that it has now is THE perfect ending for the series and I'm glad I finally figured out what I knew all along.

Thanks for asking!

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