Write backwards — or is it forwards?

I was speaking with Naren Shenkar (please, let me have spelled it right), the current Head Writer of the original CSI.  He told me that when breaking an episode, they always start with the real crime first, then work from there.  I’ve read elsewhere that LAW & ORDER may pull plot points and concepts from headlines — sometimes literally — and then build their story. 

So is starting with the crime writing forwards, or writing backwards?  To me, it feels like writing backwards, because the crime doesn’t appear till the end, and you usually see different permutations of it before you see the real thing.  Especially in WITHOUT A TRACE, you can argue that the “crime” is ongoing… the real crime is happening in every act. 

Eh, philosophical ramblings.  Whatever works, works.


Filed under TV, Writing

2 responses to “Write backwards — or is it forwards?

  1. kdgrace

    Hey there,

    Nice post. I like your analysis of the writing process – backwards versus forwards. It’s very clever. But you assume that writing, and therefore ideas, develop only linearly. The old brainstorming activity that writers often perform (and I, as well) before the actual writing begins is more spatially constructed; you start with an idea in the center and work out from there. Just a thought that your post got me thinking about…

  2. writingiswriting

    Hey there. If you read closely, you’ll note I pointed out that CSI is the one that starts with the real crime and works from there. L&O, at least historically, will start just about anywhere and pull pieces together to make the episode. However, who knows how they do it these days 🙂

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