How to master beginnings and endings A kiss hello…a wave good-bye…an airplane fading in the sky… Our lives are marked by beginnings and endings. In the things we do everyday, we look for starting and ending points. We hold those images’ sight, smell, taste and feel. The best leads and endings don’t just happen; they are crafted.
Three kinds of great leads: • The circular lead/close: Look at your ending and ask if you can begin with the closing words. • The dialogue lead: Scan your writing until you reach the first quote and then consider moving it to the start of the piece. If the first quote doesn’t lend itself to a strong lead, try looking for another one that does. • The climactic lead: Writer Becky Rule says it’s a good idea to pick up your readers by the scruff of their necks and drop them into the heart of the conflict. Every piece of writing has a climax, which doesn’t always come at the very end.
Three kinds of horrible endings: • Unnecessary repetition: The first mistake involves not trusting that your writing says what you want it to say. When this happens, writers repeat their main point, bludgeoning it in the process. • Uninspired chronology: Students make the error of ALWAYS reverting to chronology, often ending their writing with the characters dying or falling asleep. NEVER end your story with a phrase like “…and they all went to bed.” • The “Dallas Syndrome”: This catch all ending is used when the writing is implausible, or contains loose ends that the writer can’t tie up. In these instances, it’s typical for students to conclude with passages such as, “It was all just a dream,” or anything that provides an easy return from fantasy to reality. DO NOT DO THIS!
Beginnings and endings from books To Kill a Mockingbird beginning: “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”
Beginnings and endings from books Anthem beginning: “It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no other think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. It is base evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own. And we know well that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone. We have broken laws. The laws say that men may not write unless the Council of Vocations bid them so. May we be forgiven!”
Beginnings and endings from books Anthem ending: “For the coming of that day shall I fight, I and my sons and my chosen friends. For the freedom of Man. For his rights. For his life. For his honor. And here, over the portals of my fort, I shall cut in the stone the word which is to be my beacon and my banner. The word which will not die, should we all perish in battle. The word which can never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the meaning of the glory. The sacred word: EGO
Beginnings and endings from books Killing Mr. Griffin beginning: “It was a wild, windy, southwestern spring when the idea of killing Mr. Griffin occurred to them.”
Beginnings and endings from books Killing Mr. Griffin ending: “Miss McConnell: It pleases me to see the growing maturity of your work. It is indeed the “little deaths,” the small, daily rejections of our well-meant offerings, that render the soul lifeless. It is an adult thought, well expressed. I am glad that you are a junior, for it will allow me one more year in which to work with you. I look forward to watching your continued development as a writer and hope that I may be able to contribute toward it. Brian Griffin If she had been the Susan of two weeks before, she would have wept, but this new Susan had cried herself dry of tears. She replaced the paper in the drawer and went to comb her hair.