Why Do I Write In Reverse

Why Do I Write In Reverse? by K.R. Conway

Not long ago I was on the phone with another author friend while hashing out a story idea I had. When I was done, she replied, “Dude – you’re incapable of writing a straight contemporary story.”


The truth is, she’s right. I mean, I COULD do it, but at some point there would be a sizable, Kindle-hurling twist or the whole thing would just go off the rails a’la Spielberg’s Super 8 or something like that.

I blame this tendency to write like a loon on two things: genetics and writing in reverse.

The genetics is, well, crazy encoded.

Writing in reverse, however, is teachable and explainable:

Writing in Reverse forces me to dig deeply into the characters – their personalities, complexities, voice, drive, etc. It is the ULTIMATE tool for writing characters that come screaming off the page and haunt the reader well past the end of the book. And, personally, I like to torture them (both characters and, yeah, maybe the reader too).

Writing in Reverse (WIR) allows me to jump down the line in the story and test out plot threads and story layers against my characters. By using WIR, I know (well in advance) if something isn’t going to work with my cast because I’m building REAL fictional people who will not be forced into something that is against their natural “character.” Kinda like my real-life teenager . . .

Readers HATE that – when a character does something that doesn’t make sense for THAT particular character.

WIR also allows me to build detailed backstories and motivations for my characters. It allows me to change traits, modify voice, and in general build a cast that I can write for without even thinking about it. I know instinctively how a character will react / say / do in ANY situation and it makes writing a breeze.

Great stories lay down a path which forces the character to make choices based on who they are as a real person, not necessarily on what the author wants. That’s what WIR does brilliantly. It works great for any genre, even if it’s straight contemporary.

That said, I’m weird, so when I start playing around with a story idea, it usually starts out like this:


And ends up like THIS:



(This blog post was originally found at Cape Cod Scribe by clicking HERE)

Writing Anxiety in YA

With Empathy Comes Heroism by Kristy Acevedo

When I decided to make the main character in Consider, seventeen-year-old Alexandra Lucas, struggle with a major anxiety disorder and become the hero of the series, I did not make that decision lightly.  I have several immediate family members with various anxiety disorders, from mild to severe, and I wanted to send a clear message that despite their struggles, I see them as strong.

However, I knew because of her anxiety disorder, Alexandra would never fit the mold of the current masculine examples of heroes in Blockbuster films. They barely show emotion after huge battles, no PTSD, no regret, remorse, or worry that they inadvertently killed tons of bystanders while fighting in the center of populated cities.  They also reinforce the harmful stereotype that male heroes don’t show feelings, even under traumatic circumstances. To write Alexandra’s character, I had to remind myself how we define heroes in everyday life.

The mark of a hero is not found through physical strength, magical powers, or weaponry; the mark of a true hero lies in making the hardest sacrifice in the worst of circumstances because it’s the right thing to do. True heroes have deep empathy for strangers.  And they act on it when it matters, not necessarily with violence.

Heroes give a shit. For anyone.

While we all have empathy for others, heroes demonstrate acts of selflessness which push our comfort levels. Would we be capable of doing the same? We’d like to think so, but we’ll never be sure unless we are faced with that moment. When we witness true heroism through fiction, we place ourselves in the hero’s shoes and feel the weight of selflessness. It makes us better people.

We don’t admire Superman because he’s strong. We admire him because he will save anyone even though he’s an outsider. We don’t admire Dumbledore because he’s a great wizard.  We admire him because he’s willing to sacrifice his reputation, career, and life for the sake of children. We don’t admire Katniss because she can shoot bow and arrows. We admire her because she takes the spot of her sister, Prim, in the games.

Being a hero is not about masks, costumes, and fire power, but about compassion. This is how we empower female heroes in our stories.  Scratch that – this is how we should be empowering all heroes in our stories. This is what we should be teaching children.

Yes, there are plenty of exceptions to this rule – many anti-heroes and vigilantes out there – but I would argue that they are not truly heroic until they meet this criteria. I’m also not arguing that heroes are infallible or perfect; they are relatable, flawed humans with complex personalities, who still rise to the occasion when the time comes.

In Consider, when the world begins to unravel, Alexandra is an unlikely teen hero because her anxiety gets worse, not better.  Anxiety is compassion and empathy on overload. It’s the stress of worrying about everything and feeling the emotional and physical pain of it all at once. It’s what makes her weak. It’s what gives her heart. With suffering comes empathy.  With empathy comes heroism.

And it’s what can save the world.

(This blog post originally appeared on YA Interrobang. It can be found here: http://www.yainterrobang.com/anxiety-in-sff-starshipladies/ )