If you do not read Chuck Wendig’s wonderful, obscenity-laden blog, you really should. It contains nothing but great information for writers, and he posts much more frequently than I do anyway.
I bring this up because his latest goody is “Why it’s Important to Finish your [stuff]“. I won’t rehash what he has written, but I will tell you to go read it. I will, however, expand on point No. 7. Let’s go to blockquote for what Chuck says:
7. Because Learning How To Write An Ending Is Important
The ending is part of every story. You need to learn to write them, which means… you actually need to write them. A story isn’t a story without its end, just as a snake isn’t a snake if you cut it in half. Yes, that is a dubious scientific assertion, but whatever, it works for the metaphor so leave me alone or I’ll shove you in the scorpions-and-shame-pit again.
Don’t skip this ending. Complete the circuit. Learn how to do this thing.
Endings, man. I hear from so many people “I have a great idea, but I don’t have an ending”. Hell, I have a million great ideas that don’t have an ending. And if you don’t have an ending, you don’t have anything. The world building, the character development, the invented mystical language all mean jack if you can’t land it.
Ages and ages ago, I read an interview with R.L. Stine, who wrote the Goosebumps series, of which I was never a fan, but he said he always wrote the ending first. Literally wrote it, and then wrote everything which lead up to it. If I hadn’t read that, or figured it out, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now, or mind-blowingly-awesome science fiction.
Because, for me, writing the ending first achieves two things. First, it’s a destination. Not a line in an outline, or a vague concept, but I know exactly where it’s going. I have a file with the last few paragraphs of every 3024AD storyline. It’s sort of a lighthouse, or a north star. It’s fixed, and I know where I am and need to be in relation to it.
Second, it gets something on paper. It’s just as easy to write the beginning, of course, but I find writing to be like blowing up a balloon. The first little bit inflates easily, until it reaches the limit of the slack balloon- then it has to stretch, and it gets hard. You have to push hard, and then keep going. Writing the opening chapters (for me) has always been easy- Origin stories are cake. A little bit of world building, establish characters, that sort of thing. There’s not much to it. Act two, on the other hand… things get hard. you have to flesh out details, advance the plot and then keep doing it.
And keep doing it.
And keep doing it.
If your ending is firmly in place, you know what you’re going for. It provides more motivation than writing the beginning first, since you’re looking ahead, not back. It makes the middle slog that much easier (for me, anyway).
The irony here is that I don’t have much of an ending to this post, other than to say go write stuff.