The Legacy Writing Method by WIlliam Cook


The Before & After Writing Method or, The Legacy Method by William Cook


This method is best applied by short-story authors who wish to enlarge the scope of their prose. This method should be applied to enlarge/lengthen a story already written.

After following the steps outlined below you should have enough material to create a 3-part Novel. A 12-chapter template for each story is used, comprising 36 chapters upon completion. (Approx. 6-7 pages per chapter to create a 250 page novel)

With this method, even a newspaper size story can be enlarged to the point where ideas are exhausted (if at all) – the application of the method can be repeated an infinite number of times within the scope of one novel-sized narrative. Think hierarchy.

Essentially, the following steps should be taken to achieve the desired outcome:
1. Write short story (If written, read carefully and take notes). Any
story will do although the B & A method works best on strong character driven narrative.
2. Carefully think about the characters in the story and take notes
(e.g. Names, description, events, etc).
3. Do the same with the setting.
4. Think and write down what the main character’s life previously
(i.e., the time before the primary story) entailed – how did he/she arrive at the point where the initial story occurs.
5. Write a brief timeline of the character’s life taking into account
their age during the first story.
6. Outline the events that possibly lead up to the first story written.
7. Outline multiple scenarios then choose the most believable. This is
the basis for the ‘Before’ story.
8. Number twelve chapter headings (e.g. 1-12) and ‘back-fill’ using the
proposed basis for the ‘Before’ story. Work backwards from the primary story using the timeline as a guide to the character’s/s life and the events therein that make up the first part of the novel.
9. When complete edit once and then read both stories front-to-
back starting with the ‘Before’ story, taking notes and thinking about the characters/events that will make up the ‘After’ story.

     10. Use the same method, except in reverse, to write the ‘After’ story.

You may want to change the order of the three parts chronologically and switch order between the parts upon completion. 


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