Confessional Classic: Endings Never Come Last

This post originally appeared in February of this year. Seeing as we’re wrapping up 2012, “The Ending” is a good topic to revisit. Please make sure to return in 2013 for new and wonderful things.

For me, writing the ending of a story is the easiest. I think this is because it isn’t the last thing I write. In fact, I would go as far to say it’s the catalyst that gets me to write the story.

Let me break down my process, for the most part.

First comes the initial idea. Whatever it is, be it an interesting character, place, concept, or event. Doesn’t really matter which, as long as it’s interesting. Then I start writing. I just throw words on the page. Doesn’t matter if it’s clunky or chronological as long as I’m getting the words out. Then it happens.

Some might call it divine intervention. Some might say the muse spoke to them. Still others might swear that alien lizard people summoned them from another dimension to scry their inner-most secret plans. Me, I call them goosebumps. That’s right.

Goosebumps.

I get covered in them. It’s the heightened physical reaction I get when I figure out the end of my story. At this point I’m usually only two to three thousand words in. Put another way, that’s about eight to twelve pages into the novel. At that point, I have to write the ending or risk forgetting it.

After that, I’ll outline all the rest before I continue writing. Edit. Revise. Repeat.

I look for the goosebumps. I need the goosebumps. When I read the ending when I’m done writing it, the goosebumps have to be there. No goosebumps, no story.

There’s been a few times I’ve written through some ideas without a single bump. Not one raised hair. In those instances, I put the story down and moved on to the next story. That’s not to say that the goosebumps won’t come later. Better late than never. And since it got filed away (because we never throw things away), it’s easy to go back to it.

So when do you write your endings? At the end? Beginning? Or are you the Robert Jordan type and keep writing and writing and writing, without a care in the world for endings?

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