Writing exercises are helpful for people who want to increase the effectiveness of their writing. A writing exercise should challenge the writer to think about stories in a different way. Some writers may say that everything they write is a writing exercise because each projects attempts to accomplish something new. This is a great way of looking at things. One of the best exercises for new writers is to write a story backwards. Each scene should lead to the next, even though they are being written in the reverse order. Connecting these scenes so they can be read backwards or forwards is an excellent test of how solid the story is structured.
There have been many different stories that have been told backwards. One of the most fondly-remembered of these stories is an episode of the SEINFELD television comedy series. The most recent is issue #7 of DC Comics' YOUNG JUSTICE series. These are both extraordinary examples of backwards stories. However, another way to read backwards stories is to read stories that are told linearly from the last scene to the first. A couple of comic book series to try this on are X-STATIX and Waid and Kitson's LEGION OF SUPERHEROES. The issues of these series are so well-constructed that they can be read backwards just as easily as they can be read linearly.
If a story is not able to be read backwards, there is a problem. By training one's self to read stories from the back to the front, one is able to become much more adept at spotting story problems and plot-holes. This is an invaluable skill for a storyteller and can make editing much easier and more productive. Writing backwards is a fun and useful skill for any writer.
Once this tool has been mastered, there is nothing that can stop its master. Any story can be told clearly and concisely. Writing backwards illuminates the center of the story and allows the writer to see what is working and what needs to be cut. The tightest scripts are those that have been polished front to back and back to front.
Scott Amundson writes comics.