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Guest Post: Jennifer Fenn

Today we are happy to welcome author Jennifer Fenn, whose debut novel, FLIGHT RISK, releases July 18, 2017, with a post on why she writes her endings before her beginnings:

Let’s start at the very beginning.  It’s a very good place to start—except when it’s not.

When I begin a new project, whether it’s a short story, a novel or the occasional poem, I always write the last line first.  In fact, until I come up with at least an image, a single sentence, to end on, I don’t start.

First sentences are fun.  Snappy beginnings, attention-grabbers, dramatic dialogue snippets—I could write them all day!  But if I start with my first sentence, as I continue to plot and get to know my characters, the eventual ending haunts me.  Nags at me.  As a “pantser,” I’m always afraid of writing 10k, 20k, 50k words that don’t go anywhere.  So over time, I’ve started writing the ending first.  I draw a big X on my map, easing the stress of not knowing not only “how” the story will turn out, but “if” it will at all.  A target ending is my North Star.  It orients me, and it has to be on the page before I write anything else.  I write Z, then A, then start filling in all that happens in between.  That ending is as close as I’ll ever get to an outline.

Can that ending change?  Sure.  I refine it and I let it morph as the middle takes shape.  But knowing the ending I’m writing toward provides a fun challenge.  What’s the most entertaining, meaningful way for me to get where I want to go?

After all, beginnings may hooks us, but I’d argue that endings are more important.  A solid ending is the reader’s payoff.  We remember it.  We all crave that “full circle” feeling a strong ending provides, that sense of both surprise and inevitability.  Those types of endings are so much easier to craft when they’re intentional.  Knowing how your story will end helps you build in image patterns, foreshadowing, and character development.  And for the mystery writers among us, knowing a story’s ending would seem even more essential.

Want to try this method of story-crafting out?  Ask yourself the following questions, all part of developing your story’s ending:

1) What critical decision or realization is your character going to come to?

2) Literally, where is your character going?  Will the setting of your ending differ from the setting of your opening?

3) Is a particular image calling out to you?  Try to include it in this ending.  It could be a symbol in the making.

Good luck!  And full disclosure:  I wrote this sentence first.

To learn more about Jennifer Fenn and her novel, FLIGHT RISK, visit her website, goodreads, or twitter.

Kaitlin Ward

Kaitlin Ward is the author of Bleeding Earth, Adaptive Books 2016, and The Farm, coming 2017 from Scholastic.

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Item Reviewed: Guest Post: Jennifer Fenn Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kaitlin Ward