Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Writing Your Ending First

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today we're gonna talk about an interesting way to write a novel that goes out with a bang. All you pantsers out there are probably gonna love this. Those of you who work with a strict outline will most likely cheer. I'll admit to using this trick only once; but, I loved the results so much, I figured I'd share what I did and how I did it. Grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Imagine this:
You have your story idea in your head. All the research has been done and you may or may not have an outline ready and waiting. Cracking your knuckles, you sit at your computer and start banging out your first chapter. Then another flows out. Then another. You take the rest of the day off because writing those nine thousand words really took it out of you.
Day two rolls around and you grab your coffee, determined to crack out as many words as you did on day one. This day you get two chapters written before you push away from your desk, exhausted, but loving the story on the pages.
By day three, you're back to rolling out words like a Lorem Ipsum generator (but yours makes sense, of course).

Fast forward a couple of months.

You stare at the screen. Your energy is drained because you've given your everything to writing this novel you're sure has the stuff of awesomeness. And now it's time to write the ending. Your creative juices are drained and you can't figure out how in the hell you're gonna go out with a bang. *head to desk*
Words begin to meander out of your fingers and you end up with a lackluster finale you know your readers are gonna lift an eyebrow at. But you're so tired of looking at/working on this novel, you don't have it in you to re-write it.

In edits, you may revise that ending. But it'll never have the level of awesome the first eighty or so pages of the novel. Why? Because you were exhausted.

Now, step back in time to day one. You knew exactly where the story was going back then and had a vivid idea about where your characters would end up, right?

Why not write the end and the beginning on that first day?

I heard that gasp.

Let me try and put it another way. If you have a clear path to your character's finale, using your awesome creativity to craft it when you're fresh out of the gate will leave you with something rich and satisfying.

Write the end, then step back and start at the beginning. You'll find you rush less, take the time to choose just the right words, and it may even help give your novel clearer direction.

Try it once. If it doesn't work out for you, I won't take it personally. But this is a cool way to be sure your ending is everything the beginning is.

I used this technique in only one book: I, Zombie. I knew what I wanted to happen by the end and I wrote it, then the beginning. It was one of the most surreal writing experiences of my life. Endings will now always be written first when I start a novel.

Have you ever used this technique? Think you'll try it now?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. Hey Jo. Got to say I always write the ending last (I do the start first, and usually end up revising it). For me, the end feels like a natural end point and it usually comes fairly easily (in stark contrast to the start, and the middle. So... 95% of the book, really :p).

    That said, I did have the precise ending of Sir Edric's Temple in mind for the whole book.

    1. LOL! So you wrote your ending in your head before you ever began. :P

      On a serious note, it won't work for everyone. There are books I've written that couldn't have turned out the way they did without me writing them in a linear fashion. So, maybe it depends on the book. :)

      Thanks for the comment, Thaddeus!

    2. Ha, that's a fair way of putting it. And it actually raises another point in favour of writing (or knowing) the ending before the start. When I was writing the story I always had in mind how it would turn out, which I hope helped to increase the final twist's impact.

  2. I know a lot of writers that do that, but I haven't tried it yet. I usually know how a book is going to end before I write a word but I always write in order. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Heather. I try. It may not work for you. But I'm always up for trying something outside the box to get a unique POV. Even if I only try it once :) hehe

  3. I always write the beginning and the end first! I think its just the first things I can visualize.

    1. I totally get it :) I have to know where a story is going before I can get through the meat :) Thanks for the comment, sweets! :)


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