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A Good Ending

swordfight scene from The Count of Monte Cristo
via Pinterest

      I have heard before that, when writing a novel, the first step is to write the finish.  Now that seems a little counter-intuitive.  Haven't we all learned from The Sound of Music that we should:
Start at the very beginning...a very good place to start...
So why would we write the ending first?

     I still have not managed to write my ending first, and I honestly don't think it will be required.  But I have started plotting out my ending before I even get halfway into the book.  I did that with BB earlier this week.  The process goes something like this:

     1. I have a story idea and decide to write
          --- I will have a vague idea of plot, finale, characters, etc with my idea but nothing is pinned down and won't be until I start writing.
     2. I start writing and start exploring my characters
     3. Once I have got my story underway and my characters in hand, I plan my ending.
          --- This helps me to know where I am headed.
          --- This helps me to understand my characters more deeply.  What will be fitting rewards and punishments for them?
          --- This lets me know what little hints I need to be dropping throughout the story to prepare my readers for the finale.

     When I plot out my ending, I don't actually write the story of it until I get there.  Instead, I write bullet points of what happens.  It looks something like this:
Papa goes to town and rants
Stranger overhears
Stranger gets Papa to take him to xxx
Stranger approaches Curt
and so on and so forth...
When I get to the ending (as I write my story from beginning to finish), then I will turn this dull list into actual reading material.

     How do you approach your stories?  Do you write the ending before you get there?  Do you always follow a chronological progression from cover to cover?  What works best for you?


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