Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Book Give Away! Autographed Copy and What's tougher? The Beginning or the End?

Saturday Book Giveaway:  The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, autographed and shipped to you!

Email me 
Having fun with Photo Booth.
for your chance to win.  Just type BLOG!  I'll draw names and email you back for your address.  (I'll accept emails up until this Wednesday.  Thanks!)  One reader said that my book is REAL, like homemade pie.  The Boston Globe liked it.  Goodreads likes it.  Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal recommended it.  What have you got to lose?   

On to writerly topics: 
Yesterday, I saw this Twitter post:  Which is harder for you?  The beginning of your novel or the end?

Immediately, without a second thought, I typed, “end”.

So, I’m asking you the same question?  Which is tougher?  Getting started or coming up with the ending?

Reading yesterday's responses, I noticed that those who responded, “Beginning,” weren’t so much talking about the beginning, but about that halfway point, that floundering no man’s land, where you, the writer, doesn’t know what you’re doing.  You started strong.  You thought you were brilliant, and then, all of the sudden, you don’t know what should happen next.  You’re out of ideas.  (I should be writing this in the first person plural because I think this happens, not just to me, but to every writer.)  

We get lost.  If we have a strong beginning or we think we know the ending, chances are that somewhere in between, a new character is going to present herself.  We’re going to flat-line and lose sight of the conflict’s intensity.  We’re going to run out of ideas.  Uncertainty is a guarantee.  The answer to this uncertainty is to keep moving forward, faithfully, unflinchingly.  Because:  No ifs ands or buts:  you are going to be cutting and rewriting.  That’s the name of the game.  

Target Summer Pick! That's mine in
the middle!
Writing a novel is not an easy endeavor.  By all means, it’s exciting and wondrous, but not easy.  If you're an idealist and you think Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road without revising, think again.  Anyone who makes anything great most likely suffered for it.     

And for those of you geniuses who don’t have to rewrite repeatedly, I'm not going to lie.  I'm envious.  I am in the midst of a rewrite.  It’s a necessity for me.  Sometimes, I think it’s plain evil, but then I see the change I’ve wrought through one draft and then another, and my work is all the better because of it.

Things to consider:  Do you know how your book is going to end when you begin it?  I do not, but all writers are different. 

Tom Robbins once said at the first James River Writers Conference, “If I knew how a book was going to end, why would I bother writing it?”  For him and for me, writing is an act of discovery.  But for others, they know the ending, they are just not sure how they’re going to get there.    

Don't Fear the Beginning or the Ending.  Love the Act!

So, beginning or ending?  What’s your thorn?  Is the middle your quicksand?

Thanks for reading.  I hope you win a signed hardback copy of The Handbook for Lightning Strike 

"Young-Stone has written an exceptionally rich and sure-handed debut, full of complex characters, brilliantly described..."  The Boston Globe

michele young-stone is the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.  Her next two novels, including the one she is revising, are under contract with Simon & Schuster.  Michele lives on an island with her husband, son, dog, lizard and some groovy fish.      


  1. For me, it's definitely the ending that's a struggle. It's not the resolution that's the problem, it's that final ending sentence. I never feel like I've gotten that quite right.

    I no longer fear beginnings because, as you mentioned, through editing and revisions, I can usually nail those. But I'm always second (and third)-guessing my endings.

    1. Me too. It takes me a while to figure it out. Thanks for replying.

  2. I get lost in the middle, and I think it's worse when I know the ending! I prefer not knowing how it will end. Makes it more fun to write, since I can't wait to find out what will happen.

    1. Me too, though sometimes I wish I didn't have to rewrite so much!

  3. This is why I read & don't write.

    It sounds like you are getting some amazing reviews.

  4. Love this, Michele! I LOVE beginnings. In fact, I've got a bunch of beginnings on my computer! For me, the hardest part is actually the middle. Very hard to keep that momentum going and get everything in place for the ending.