We heard it said the other day that the perfect ending for your novel should be one that feels both surprising and inevitable. An ending that the reader isn’t expecting, but one that, once they reach it, they can see was coming all along. They should be able to turn back to the first page and go: Of course.
With that in mind, here are a couple of exercises which will help you play around with your sense of an ending, a beginning, and the stuff that goes in between.
If you have a manuscript (at any stage, in any shape) on the go
If you haven’t finished a draft yet, take your first line and imagine it’s the last. What would need to happen in the final chapters for that to be the case?
If you have finished a draft, look at the final line (isn’t it a wondrous thing, that final line?). Copy it with love and paste it right at the beginning of the manuscript, as the very first sentence. What happens?
Of course, the ending doesn’t literally have to echo the opening. But looking at those two points side-by-side can help you get a sense of the narrative arc of your novel.
If you fancy doing something short and new
Write a short story – 500-1000 words – which begins at its end and ends at its beginning. For example, you could open with someone being arrested and then show us the events of the day that led to the crime being committed.
What effect does giving away the ending have on the story? What different tricks do you, as the author, need to employ to interest a reader?
We have new creative writing exercises for you every Wednesday. And if you can’t wait a whole week, join us every Friday morning for our QuickFic competition – write a story based on that week’s prompt for a chance to win a stack of books.