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Writer-Talk Wednesday: Beginnings, Middles, and Endings | #amwriting #2017WritingGoals

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

  • Why are first lines more memorable than last lines?
  • Are first lines more important than last lines?
  • Why are there so many more books, articles, blog posts, etc., published about writing first lines/openings than there are about writing last lines/endings?
  • What’s your favorite last line of a book?

Let’s explore these and more questions about writing the beginnings, middles, and endings of stories.

Finding Your Beginning in “The End”
(originally published October–November 2014)

There and Back Again: Finding Your Beginning in “The End”
Let’s look at some last lines and discuss whether last lines are as important and memorable as first lines.

Finding Your Beginning in “The End”: Is Writing the Perfect First Line Really a Big Deal?

    How much more time and effort is given to the study and practice of “crafting the perfect opening” of our novels? After all, not only must we intrigue readers with it, but our first few opening lines may also be all that our dream agent or editor might ever read. It’s drilled into our heads over and over and over and over that we must make a good first impression by writing the perfect opening line/paragraph/page.

    And there is a lot that hangs in the balance that means we should spend time and energy on crafting our opening lines.

    The question becomes WHEN should we spend the time on our openings?

Finding Your Beginning in “The End”: Are You a Trustworthy Writer?

    Have you ever picked up a book, read a few paragraphs, and then put it down (or thrown it down) in disgust or disappointment because there was a historical error or a page and a half of backstory or head hopping? What happened is that you discovered you couldn’t trust the author.

Finding Your Beginning in “The End”: Dreaming of Writing a Perfect Opening

    One of the most tempting things for beginning writers—and one thing absolutely certain to flag them as newbies—is to take the instruction to “open with a bang” as permission to generate a hugely intense and captivating opening by throwing the readers into the middle of the character’s dream.

Finding Your Beginning in “The End”: The Importance of Finishing Your First Draft

    More than going to conferences, more than reading how-to books to help you learn about the craft of writing, more than anything else you can do, finishing your first draft teaches you how to write. It also lets you know what you need to go back and change in the beginning of your manuscript.

Finding Your Beginning in “The End”: Ending Your Beginning

    No matter how meticulously you’ve plotted and pre-planned your story, new scenes, new plot ideas, new characters crop up as you write. So much of our creativity comes from our subconscious processes that our stories at times seem to take on a life of their own—we become a conduit for the story that’s taking shape on the page, and we’re almost like spectators watching a movie or reading someone else’s book. And these new ideas and twists can change the tone, theme, or even plot of the story once you get to the end. How can you weave setups for these new scenarios into the opening scenes when you go back for revisions?

If that series wasn’t enough to get you started, here are some others I’ve written about beginnings, middles, and endings:

First Lines
(originally published April 2007)



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