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.