Writing the ending of a story first, is not an uncommon habit. In fact, for many years, I thought I was the only writer doing it. It wasn’t until I started being asked by writers and non-writers why I begin at the end, did I discover that a lot of other, very successful writers, choose this technique also! Feeling like I was in good company, I thought I’d dig deeper as to why we do this, and why it is a very good idea.
1. The end is the beginning. You’d like to write a book. You got here after years of contemplation. Your story idea has been sitting inside you, building up to this. It is worthy of being written and needs to get from your mind to the paper. Start by getting that idea down on paper so that all of the emotion you carry that supports your desire to write; that emotion that brought you here in the first place, is not lost. Be detailed, find your resolve, inject emotional climax, and keep writing and editing, until you feel like you’re excited and bursting at the seems to show it to the world. Right there! - at THAT point, you have an excellent base to a fantastic story. It may be the end, but it is really the start of your incredible literary journey.
2. Build to an intriguing climax. A great ending is all in the build-up. Climax is equally important for every genre. A novel that relies on twists, turns and tension (a murder mystery or thriller, for example) will require a stronger build-up. Books that aren’t as reliant on suspense, such as romance novels, also benefit from a satisfying build-up. So how do you build to a climactic ending?
- Make it harder for characters to reach their objectives – what stands in their way?
- If applicable to your story, increase characters’ peril.
- Vary pace – write shorter scenes and chapters to increase momentum.
- Keep the largest confrontations between characters for your final chapters.
3. Why waste it? Now that you’ve written a dramatic, exciting, ending to use as your base, try not to lose sight of your grand idea. You have to be realistic; writing is time consuming, tiring, and emotionally and physically, challenging, but if you’ve already begun to create and form your ending, why waste it? As hard as it is at times, keep that desire alive by working towards the ending in each chapter.
9. Word count. Yes, word count matters. While there is nothing wrong with slim novels, buyers expect more for their money these days. A typical publisher will expect a word count that is anywhere between 20,000 – 100,000 words. If you have around 40,000 words then you’re in good company. Writing the ending of your book sets the precedence for how long you write your chapters. Readability is a factor in novels; having your audience feel comfortable with length and read time. Try to, at least, write as much as you did in the previous chapter, or thereabouts. If you use this as a general rule, starting with the fantastic ending you have written, then you’ll easily reach your desired word count by completion. For example; if you’re writing seven A4 pages in word with Times New Roman 11 or 12, for twenty chapters, then by the end of your story, once you’ve converted it in to your desired book layout, you will have a nice sized novel that will feel worthy of sale.
In the end, none of the above matters when you have a deep desire to write a novel and cross that item off your bucket list. However, sometimes, utilizing tips and tricks by other artists can help to strengthen the already, amazing talent, you have. In the end, no matter how you write, when you write, or how much you write, your story is golden. Your words are what define you and your story is worth sharing with the world. So, go out there and make the world a better place by completing your novel and giving the gift of your writing for others to enjoy!