Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beginnings and Endings

In or Out? Beginning or End? (An illustration I did for my book, The Elements and Principles of Design.)

B eginnings and endings cause writers the most grief. I have sat struggling over the beginning of a story many times. What am I trying to say? How should it be said or shown? What type of person would be reading this? And what would grab the interest of that type of reader? I sit at my computer and feel the blood rising in my head trying to feed my brain. I close my eyes, try to block out the distractions around me, and think. I write until I’m either satisfied or time runs out. Usually the time runs out—well—the time always runs out in my case.
Most writers write out the whole book or story from beginning to end. Then they make several passes back through the book fixing things—such as adding or subtracting details, rearranging things inside chapters, making sure of verb and pronoun agreement, and etc. Then they go back and rewrite the beginning and the ending. Here’s why.

·         Because beginnings should accomplish the following:
1.      Catch the interest of the readers.
2.      Introduce the characters.
3.      Set the stage—time, place, social atmosphere, era, situation.
That’s a tall order, and it applies to writing personal and family history as well as to books and articles.
            There are three approaches you can take with beginnings:
1.      You can start with an anecdote or little story that will generate interest.
2.      You can start with dialogue that makes the reader curious.
3.      You can make an interesting statement or raise a question that hooks the reader in.
Obviously, you have to decide which approach will work best for what you’re writing. And then the fun begins!

·         Because endings should accomplish the following:
1.      Wrap up loose ends.
2.      Answer raised questions.
3.      Make the reader feel satisfied.
There are three approaches you can take with endings:
1.      Create a summary.
2.      Conclude with a comparison of times, places, or people. (Harry was like his grandfather in that . . . .)
3.      Draw conclusions or submit final findings.
You need to make the work look, feel, and sound finished. And what a great place for a writer to finally be! Good Luck in your work.

Can you find the beginning or end to this one? (I did this a few days ago for a project I'm working on.)

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