The End in Mind

By Terry C. Misfeldt

It is often said to writers they should begin their story with the end in mind. There is a reason this makes sense: If you have the end in mind, you know when you have gotten to where you want your story to be when it is finished.

That seems a simple explanation, but the concept has value. Does your heroine save the prince and live happily ever after? Does the detective solve the crime or discover another clue leading to doubt about the outcome of the investigation?

In my novel, Shevivor, the protagonist survives a grizzly bear attack and being pursued by a pack of wolves. Janet Murphy’s mere survival could have ended the story, but the end in my mind was to leave the reading wondering about the wolves.

Is there a sequel you plan to write? Then make sure the end of the first installment sets up the story occurring in the second. Everything you write should direct the reader toward the end without allowing them to predetermine the outcome.

If you have favorite television shows, you most likely can guess what will happen in the next scene. The unexpected car crash ends the episode and leaves you hanging to make sure you tune in for next week’s show. Did the protagonist survive? Or die?

That is acceptable in writing scripts but the end must still be kept in mind. It is especially true in writing a novel of almost any genre. Even with a memoir, you should know how you want it to end. Is there a lesson your life’s memories can impart to the reader?

What I will leave you with is this: If you do not write with the end in mind, your work is going to meander all over the place with no clear path to the climax or conclusion. You may lose and disorient your audience as a result. The end.