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The Ending

Never, ever revise your opening chapter, your opening line, or the opening scene to your story if you haven't already written then ending. Mike Stackpole once told me, "Would you rather thirty chapters of a finished novel? Or thirty revisions of chapter one?" And he's right.

This is probably the advice I give to people more often than anything else.

Writers will ask about when they know how to move on from their first chapter, or they'll ask how to tell if they're opening is right, but there is no answering that question if there is no ending.

Unless you know exactly the bullseye you're aiming at, you're not going to be able to make the fine adjustments in your aim at the beginning of the process. That's the best part of writing. It's like archery in that you are aiming at the center of a target, but once you hit the target the first time, you don't have to shoot another arrow. You can go back to the beginning and readjust your aim and try again, seeing how close you came to that red dot in the middle.

That didn't do the trick?

Guess what! You can do it again.

And again. And again. You're always working with that same arrow.

That's what's great about writing novels. You never have to put a book out without putting your best foot forward and you always know you're going to hit the target you're aiming at.

As far as beginnings go, I do my best to not start a book until I know exactly what the ending is. Then, when I get to the end, all of the organic revelations I had during the drafting process will come to light and I'll have a much better idea of how things come together. Then I get to go back and make sure the beginning supports that point in ways I would have never even realized were possible if I hadn't finished.

Then I do that over and over and over again.

I do the same thing with my columns for City Weekly or Big Shiny Robot! I don't start writing the first sentence until I've worked out what the last sentence in the piece is. Then, writing it doesn't take so long and rewriting is even faster.

So, that's my two cents for this week.

If you're looking for some of my other work across the print media and Internet, my latest piece for Salt Lake City Weekly is about why it's not so bad that our favorite superhero movies don't win Oscars.

I'll also have my full schedule for Star Wars Celebration posted next week and we'll see what other irons have completed their time in the fire. In the meantime, I'm hard at work, still drafting new short stories and working every day on the revision of "The Aeronaut."

And don't forget to check out any of my books, drop reviews of them on Amazon or Goodreads, and follow me on twitter!


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