Lesson 1: Begin with the end in mind
Writing is fun, creative, and challenging.
It can also be frustrating if you have no idea how to begin.
Certainly the best place to begin is at the beginning,
but begin with the end in mind.
Some writers do not begin to write until they think of a title first. Others may not start until they have the ending in mind. Some just get an idea and let it take them wherever it goes. Since there are no rigid laws in creative writing, keep in mind there is more than one way to accomplish your goal to write an interesting story.
But the easiest way is to begin with the end of your story in mind.
This advice “to begin with the end in mind” was coined by a famous psychologist/writer by the name of Dr. Stephen Covey. He believes successful people can visualize their future lives, education goals, or finished projects and have a much easier time to attain them.
Like a ship captain who doesn’t leave the harbor until he has a destination in mind, many writers think at length of a storyline, possible characters, and the ending before they begin to write. Often the story crystallizes with a title that symbolically brings all these various elements together.
In Hollywood, it is said that an entire movie can be summarized in one short paragraph on the back of a business card. You’ve seen this many times when the caption about a movie in the television guide describes it in one paragraph.
The same can be said about your chapter for this never-ending story. Just think of a title first, then the plot and characters will begin to take shape. If you do know the ending, it will make your story much easier to write.
Writers often think they must write from the first chapter to the last, which certainly makes sense. Like a guide on a mountain trail, as the writer your story may have many twists and turns until it reaches a final destination. Don’t be upset in the beginning if you don’t know where your story is taking your readers since the plot may unfold as you write. You may have an ending in mind, or you may not, but the fun is the trip from the beginning to the ending. Just have fun thinking and being creative because you may change the plot and the ending as the storyline unfolds in your mind.
On rare occasion, it may be just the opposite. For example, Margaret Mitchell who authored Gone with the Wind, wrote her book from the back to the front. Incredibly, she wrote the last chapter first, then wrote each chapter until she arrived at the first chapter. While that may sound odd, it worked for her to write one of the most popular books in history. She did begin with the end in mind.
As you can see, there are no steadfast rules to writing, which is why it is so fun to play creatively without rules sometimes. While there are certainly rules about grammar, sentence structure, and basic composition, that will come as you mature as a writer or when you take journalism classes in school or college. For now, just start thinking about anything that sounds like a good story, and that beings with brainstorming that we’ll discuss in Lesson 2.