I was a dinosaur--or worse, a reactionary. ...I had told her a story. But that's what I do. And if you're telling a story --especially to illustrate a point--you'd better know what happens in the story before you start.
This is good advice. :)
Amazingly, Irving starts his works at the end!
Endings not only matter to me; endings are where I begin a novel or a screenplay. If I don't know the ending, I can't begin--and I don't mean that I need to know only what happens. I need to know the tone of voice, and the last sentence (or sentences). I write not only to a moment in time, but to a sound--a feeling. I have to know what that feeeling is, or I won't start.
From the last sentence, I work my way back to where the story begins. This constitutes a kind of road map in reverse. That process--of working my way backward through the plot, from the last sentence to the first--usually takes a year or eighteen months, sometimes longer. But for twelve novels now, the last sentence has always come first. And those last sentences have never changed in the process--not even the punctuation.
How do you write?