Ted Chiang may not be the most prolific sf short story writer ever, but you’d be hard pressed to find many folk who wouldn’t concede that he’s one of the best. So go check out this interview with him at BoingBoing if you haven’t already… here’s a snippet where Chiang describes his writing process, which is rather about-face by comparison to those I’ve heard from other writers, though it makes a compelling sort of sense:
In general, if there’s an idea I’m interested in, I usually think about that for a long time and write down my speculations or just ideas about how it could become a story, but I don’t actually start writing the story itself until I know how the story ends. Typically the first part of the story that I write is the very ending, either the last paragraph of the story or a paragraph near the end. Once I have the destination in mind then I can build the rest of the story around that or build the rest of the story in such a way as to lead up to that. Usually the second thing I write is the opening of the story and then I write the rest of the story in almost random order. I just keep writing scenes until I’ve connected the beginning and the end. I write the key scenes or what I think of as the landmark scenes first, and then I just fill in backwards and forwards.
Good interview: go read. And when you’ve finished it, go read some Ted Chiang stories if you haven’t already. And if you have, why not read ’em again?