Begin with the End

A portrait of Kirsty Murray
Kirsty Murray
13 December 2013
With: 
Kirsty Murray

Too often, we spend so long building towards the climax of our story that we’ve lost the reader long before we get there. A good exercise in understanding the structure of your story is to begin with the end. Take the climax of the closing scene and move it the beginning of your story. Often the most powerful writing in your story is at that intense moment of resolution.

Too much backstory in the opening scenes can make a story slow to start. By beginning with the climax of the story, you immediately hook your reader. In moving the closing scene to the beginning of your story, you may find that you have to pare back the scene and reshape it. Your next challenge is to rebuild the rest of the story so the scenes following your new, dramatic opening lead in a circular direction towards the end. Trust your reader’s intelligence and allow them to piece together the meaning of that early dramatic scene by carefully revealing what led to the dramatic opening without burdening them with a convoluted explanation.

The resolution of your story may touch upon the opening scene or you may discover an alternative ending to your piece but the overall story will be tighter and more intriguing. Restructuring a story can help you fathom both its strengths and its weaknesses and improve your understanding of how all stories work.

About Kirsty Murray

Kirsty Murray is an award-winning author of ten novels for young adults and children including India Dark, Vulture’s Gate, The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie, and the epic quartet of historical fiction Children of the Wind. Her published works include fiction and non-fiction, short stories, a tetralogy, essays and varied journalism. Her books are published internationally.