From the End to the Beginning

Part 7: Re-visioning Your Story     Why from the End to the Beginning? Many writers spend a significant amount of time crafting the beginning of their story. They know the beginning of a story is critical. If you don’t hook your reader, the story will go unread. But did you realize the ending is just as important?   No amount of convincing characters, intricate or thrilling plot, nor vivid story world construction can overcome a poorly crafted story end. And a failed ending of your story will cause an agent, editor, or reader to put down the book never to pick up another of your stories. But a great ending will reward your reader with an emotional payoff. Hooked, he’ll eagerly seek out more of your stories. So how do you construct a great ending? In revision. First, in order to craft a perfect ending, you must understand the key components of the ending of a story: the crisis, the climax, and the resolution. CRISIS The crisis is the pivotal moment of your story. Your protagonist’s choices and actions have led her to this point where she must make a final, irrevocable choice. “At the point of crisis,” Bob Mayer […]

Is There a Time and Place in Your Story?

Setting: Week 6 of Re-visioning Your Story There’s a time and place for . . . time and place in your story. When and where your story takes place gives the reader a reference point, or as Dwight V. Swain calls it, ” a standard for your reader.” Getting the time and place right is like the difference between Sleeping Beauty’s castle and Windsor castle. When revising your manuscript, you’ll want to be certain to read through at least once while focusing on how you reveal the story’s setting. Perhaps you think you don’t need to because “my story takes place in the real world, in a real city, in a real home/office/park.” Whether your story’s world is based in reality or made-up purely from your imagination, your choice of details revealed and withheld in your manuscript can support or destroy your reader’s suspension of disbelief. (And I’m assuming you want to do everything you can to support your reader in this regard.) Setting is a huge topic. In Thanks, But This Isn’t for Us, Jessica Page Morrell calls setting details “a literary Leatherman.” And she gives a long list of things from politics to technology and everything in between […]

As the Plot Turns

As the plot turns, so turns your story. Pantser or Planner, HOW you choose to write the story MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. Fine tune the plot in the second draft, the revision. The first draft is to get the story down on paper. It’s the revisioning that matters. This is where you take that diamond in the rough and cut away everything that gets in the way of your reader seeing the shining gem inside. In the final analysis, for your story has to have some kind of structure, some thread of a plot, that will keep your reader engaged. Lesson 5: Re-Visioning Your Story More than Just a Beginning, Middle, and End First, let’s agree upon a definition of plot. Wait a minute, you say, everyone knows a plot is: a Beginning, a Middle and an End. Some of you may think you’ll outwit me by quoting a dictionary, such as The American Heritage Dictionary, which says the plot is “the plan of events or main story in a narrative or drama.” I’d argue that plot is more than that. To paraphrase and meld together definitions by Dwight V. Swain, Donald Maass, and Jessica Page Morrell: plot is a series […]