Beginning, ending, and what’s in between


How do you ensure a story has a good beginning, a satisfying ending, and good continuity in between?

Honey, if I could answer that one, I’d be on the New York Times Best Seller list, or at least my novels would be top sellers in their category onAmazon.

Ah, well.

But of course, I do take care to try to ensure a good beginning, ending, and continuity.

I am not one of those writers who outlines their novel in detail, but I do need to know the beginning, the ending, and the high points of what’s in between when I start out. Or at least, I think I do.  So far I have been fairly on target about the ending, even when I don’t know how I’m going to get there. For example, in my novel Broken Bonds, (WARNING: Spoiler) the main character, Major Brad Reynolds, is accused of treason. I knew which way I wanted the case

One of my drawings of Aleyne, mountains wiith the multi-colored desert sands in the foreground

against him to go, but I had no idea, until I wrote it, how I was going to manage to do it. Fortunately, my subconscious is a better plotter than I {wry grin}.


As to the beginning, that’s trickier. I wrote a children’s chapter book (that has yet to appear) about a little boy who loses his mother in a fire.  I initially started with the fire, but finally realized that the story really started in what was at the time Chapter Three where my main character’s mother is dead, his father still in the hospital, and he is going home with his grandmother. I discarded part of the first chapter of the earlier versions of Broken Bonds, too.

As for filling in the middle, since I don’t outline in detail, I have notes for the chapters I ‘know’ about and fill in the ‘blanks’ as I write. I tend to have more detailed notes a couple of chapters ahead of where I’m writing.

And when I reach the end of the first draft, I go back and revise. At that point I have an overview of the whole novel. I revise more, I believe, than someone who has a detailed outline. That’s the trade off. However, I don’t know enough about the novel to do that before I’ve written the first draft.


Skye Taylor
Marci Baun
Judith Copek
Margaret Fieland
A.J. Maguire
Beverley Bateman
Rhobin L Courtright

Anne de Gruchy


6 thoughts on “Beginning, ending, and what’s in between

  1. Rhobin

    The first draft is hard but easy compared to the following drafts and decisions needing made. It’s hard to throw out two chapters, isn’t it? But if it improves the story obviously you are willing to do it. I’ve done it, too.


  2. Skye-writer

    We have a lot in common in our approach. I also have a very active subconscious that helps fill in the holes. For some reason it is prodded to action by water – either in the shower or when I’m walking along the beach and I return to my desk with whole scenes, complete with dialog racing through my head. Great post.


  3. wildchild

    I’m a pantser as well. I don’t have detailed notes about… anything. Perhaps I should, but I don’t. Most of the time, I’m pretty good at keeping track of things. Since joining a crit group, I’ve done more revising than I have in the past, but my muse feeds me 1000 words or less a day. Sometimes, those are like giving the last drops of my blood. LOL

    When I’m stuck, I let it stew for a few days. That’s when my subconscious rushes in.

    Great post!


  4. judyinboston

    Interesting how most of us writing today are pantsers. And yet the novels come out just fine in the end, but you are right, we may do more editing. Crit groups are great. I am impressed that you manage. 100. words a day. That’s discipline.


  5. okwriter

    I like that you revise instead of doing a detailed outline to start. That works better for me, too. I like that you write notes for the chapters you know. That would definitely help those sagging middles.



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