So you can read my books

Thursday, January 26, 2012


One of the criticisms of the last LORD OF THE RING movie was that it appeared Peter Jackson couldn't decide where to end the movie

and tricked the audience into thinking they were watching the end, only to be moved to yet another false ending.

By the time the movie did end, many were grumbling about the whole experience.

Are we authors like that?

Do we linger too long, milking the afterglow of the story. Or do we end too abruptly once the crisis is averted or overcome?

Many teachers of creative writing stress not to begin writing until you have the ending clearly in mind

so that you can head to it with skillful foreshadowing and firm precision, not meandering until the end just comes to you.

I think that approach also helps you to know when to begin.

If you know the ending with its transformation of the main character, then you know where to start your story ...

and you get a sense of how to bring your protagonist to his destination.

What mood do you want the reader to leave your novel holding in his heart?

Hope. Despair. Laughter. Resolve in the face of dissolution.

Or a mix of all of the above?


  1. Huh, that's an interesting thought: know the ending so you can figure out where to begin. Thought provoking!

  2. ...I've read many such novels, Roland. They play out nicely, only to linger on for another fifty pages of pointless jargon.

    It's definitely a thought to ponder when finishing up one's next WIP.


  3. I read a quote once that said the beginning should make you want to keep reading, the ending should make you glad you did.

  4. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't feel that way with LOTR. In fact, I wanted so much more, even after the extended editions.

  5. I think movie goers expect something different than most novel readers. At least that's what I gathered from the whole Lord Of The Rings movie experience. I personally don't mind a movie not ending as long there will be another. However, since we're beat over the head with 'your story must be complete in itself' it is frustrating to see some breaking that rule and getting away with it. But then, Tolkien wrote the rules, so he can break them. ;)

  6. Hi Roland .. probably very sensible advice - don't start until you're set to go .. to the finish line.

    I've written one short story - but it was a murder - so it was easy to finish and solve!

    I've not seen The Lord of the Rings - when I do ..I'll take note ... I saw War Horse yesterday - that was amazing ..

    Have a good weekend .. Hilary

  7. I try not to prescribe anything to anyone, but I try not to start writing before I know at least partially where the book ends.

    Usually, the more detailed my knowledge of the end, the fewer problems I have with the middle.

  8. I usually have a character, conflict, and idea how I want it to end before I finish the story but then when the time all goes to H@##.


  9. Emily :
    A very successful screen writer, Blake Synder, said the first and last scene should be like one of those BEFORE & AFTER photos in those diet ads! It made sense to me. Since then, I have seen that advise else where. Thanks for visiting. Even more thanks for staying to chat. Roland

    Elliot :
    Me, too. It's like trying to milk a joke after the punch line has been given -- it diminishes the enjoyment and memory, right?

    KarenG :
    Great quote. Oops. Oscar Wilde's ghost just stole it. Darn that rascal!

    Joshua :
    I am a LOTR fan myself and knew those scenes weren't really endings. But most of my friends, in and out of the workplace, had not read the trilogy so they kept starting to get out of their seats, only to have sit back down again. As novelists, we must let our reader feel a sense of closure, so she/he can close our book with a pleased sigh.

    Heather :
    You're right, of course. Movies operate under different directives than novels.

    The ending of the latest SHERLOCK HOLMES (no spoilers) with the typed ? after Watson's THE END were pleased with that final image, done with humor.

    Most viewers of THE RETURN OF THE KING knew it was the closing chapter. Most of the non-readers of the trilogy were confused by its multiple endings.

    Like you, I feel that novels can be complete in some ways but leave plot threads hanging for the next novel to hang on to. After all, life's crises are never completely solved but have ramifications linger after the solution. Thanks so much for visiting and talking with me.

    Hilary :
    I've missed you. My work as a blood courier has been all-consuming lately, making it hard for me to visit my friends like you.

    I so want to see WARHORSE. I will have to wait for the DVD where I can stop it to race off into the night to bring rare blood to a rural hospital. I sometimes feel like Batman -- but without the spandex!

    Some murders are hard to write to make the readers not guess too easily the murderer! You have a great weekend as well!

  10. Misha :
    You have nailed the solution to difficulties with novels' midsection. Knowing the ending can help you tighten your (novel's) midsection! LOL. Thanks for staying to talk a bit!

    E. :
    LOL! Yes, me, too. But the imaginaged ending gives impetus to my story's progress. Then, when a new twist to the ending occurs to me, it surprises the reader as much as me!

  11. I've always visualized the ending first. As you said, that makes selecting the beginning easier.
    And I liked the way LOTR ended. If Peter Jackson had added another scene that was in the book, there would've been three endings.

  12. Alex, I guess we are alike a bit in our writing. It does make the beginning selection easier, doesn't it?

    I, too, enjoyed the ending of LOTR but I had read the novel. Peter Jackson faced the challenge that the directors of the last movies made from the thick, thick Harry Potter books faced : what to cut, what to include and still make an understandable movie! Thanks for visiting and talking for a bit!

  13. I didn't know my ending until I was half way through my last novel. But I don't think I would have known the ending before that.

  14. Each of us might write the way we feel comfortable doing it. Knowing the end just allows us to blend plot threads and forshadowing in the earlier chapters. Thanks for visiting and staying to talk a bit! Roland

  15. Most of my stories get their incentive from the ending. The writing journey is to get there.

    I don't always have a definitive end though. And the growth takes some work to accomplish.

    But yeah, I like the idea of writing with the end in mind. Helps me focus on the actual story and character developments.

    Last season's Walking Dead ending was so perfect! Totally shocking. I can't wait for the new season to begin again.


  16. Donna :
    Still at work -- will do the weekend solo since my co-worker wants it off for Mardi Gras preparations. Sigh.

    We're kindred spirits in writing it seems. The ending is like the star I chart my course by. The waters may be bumpy but I still get to port! LOL. And the ending sometimes changes in impact and in other ways, too, Roland

  17. Oops! I wanted to say that the ending of last season's WALKING DEAD truly was shocking, making me want to see what Feb. brings! Roland