Category Archives: Beginnings and Endings

Flashes of Inspiration

Everyone has flashes of inspiration. Mine happen usually when I’m head-down on something and my mind takes a detour. However, there are time when I NEED a flash of inspiration…I mean, I really need it, and it’s nowhere to be found.

I’ve been struggling with my beginning for awhile now. Not that I’ve done anything about it. The beginning hasn’t changed as I keep plowing through pages and pages of new material. But it’s been plaguing me. I know it’s wrong. It’s unnecessary. It’s not where the story starts. And that’s my biggest frustration.

I know the story starts where the action begins, but I’ve had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to manipulate my characters so that my heroine and her hero get introduced after the action begins, yet under the Right Circumstances. That’s required, or there is no conflict, and if there’s no conflict, I may as well start the story anywhere, because what I’ll have is no story, just a bunch of events.

Anyhoo, my muse usually helps me with this stuff. I refer to my muse as The Girls in the Basement (like Stephen King’s “Boys in the Basement”). Most of the time, they’re on top of things, delivering ideas to me, helping me get words on the page. But they are also good at stringing me along for prolonged periods of time. Apparently, they’ve had something better to do any time I’ve thought about how my story starts. Maybe they’re hungry. Maybe they’re grouchy.  Whatever the case, the Girls have clearly been on hiatus…until tonight.

I must have fed them right this evening (was it the Oreos?) because while posting comments for the class I’m taking, inspiration flashed. It was big. It was Bright! It was GREAT! I know what to do!

So thank you, Girls, for coming to the party, staying awhile, enjoying some cake (Oreos?), and leaving a lovely hostess gift. I owe you one. Soon. I promise…but please, can it wait until we get through the first act?

It’s Hard to Write the Beginning When You Don’t Know the Ending

ImageSo this week in class we’re discussing the beginning and the ending of a story. Of course, there’s argument about which is more important…the beginning because you have to hook the reader, or the ending because you have to fulfill the promise you made to the reader throughout the entire book. Frankly, I think they’re equally important. If the beginning sucks, I won’t keep reading, and if the ending sucks, that author won’t see another dime from me.

Anyhow, I’m struggling with my ending. Everything I’ve learned says that the ending should be the final to-the-death moment between the protag and antag where all the cards are on the table. It should have the reader on the edge of their seat, biting their fingernails, hoping for the best (keep in mind what I write, folks. No unhappy endings here). And it should tie back to the beginning. My ending does not. In fact, I think the reader will be sitting on the floor on their hands they’re so bored with what I’ve got, and it has nothing to do with the beginning. At all. Granted, and I mentioned this in my previous post, I’m trying to crank out this ending (as well as the beginning) to satisfy an assignment for class and I’m writing out of order, which I don’t like. All of the “saggy” stuff in the middle that most writers have to contend with? Well, I have none…yet.

One of the things I’ve learned this week in our beginning/ending lecture is that ideally there should be parallels between your first scene and your climax/last scene. Something that brings the reader full-circle, if only in a small way. For me, this seems to be a cart-before-the-horse problem. I’m really struggling with my ending, not sure how it should all happen. So it’s hard for me to go back to the beginning and create those parallels. And I can’t really create the parallels in the ending based on the beginning because…well…I have no ending.

This probably seems trivial to you seasoned writers, but I’m struggling. I’m also struggling because I have no middle yet…nothing to hang my ending on. What I’ll probably end up writing for class will be nothing I use in my finished book (hell, even my draft), but I hope I can write something that presumably would draw readers in and make them happy.