Beginnings, Middles, and Endings
Finding Your Beginning in “The End”
(originally published October–November 2014)
- 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?
- The question becomes WHEN should we spend the time on our openings?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
(originally published April 2007)
- Famous First Lines
Not-so-Famous First Lines
What’s the Big Deal about First Lines?
A Last Word about First Lines
- Storyboarding to Avoid the Sagging Middle
Hooking the Reader: Scene Two, Take Five
Hooking the Reader: That Scene Is a Disaster!
Hooking the Reader: “To Be Continued . . .”
Hooking the Reader: Facing the Consequences
SCENE IT: 1-2-3 Blast Off! Crafting Out-of-this-World Scene Launches
SCENE IT! Is there a bit of tension in here?
SCENE IT! Complicate Your Characters’ Lives
SCENE IT! Hooking Your Reader with Scene Endings
SCENE IT! Consequences and Rewards (a.k.a., Scene and Sequel)