Beginnings, Middles and Ends
All stories need three things:
- A beginning
- A middle
- An end
When you are writing your story you do not have to write it in order. You might have an idea in your head that’s the perfect ending for a story. That’s alright. Write it down and use it as inspiration for the rest of your story. You can always put it in the right order at the end.
The important thing is to start writing, not where you start.
Getting these three things right is what holds your story together. It is the glue, or skeleton that holds everything in place, so that you can add the details that will make your story come alive.
The beginning, middle and end are sometimes called the narrative thread. It doesn’t really matter what you call them, as long as you take your readers on a journey. When they have read your writing they must feel satisfied that you have told them a complete story that has kept their interest and made sense to them.
You might want to add interest to your story by writing the whole thing backwards. This sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. An example of a story like this could be an old man or woman looking back on an exciting adventure they had when they were a child. It could be your hero or heroine standing in the ruins of a city which has been torn apart by a huge battle. The story could start with the character thinking; ‘How did this happen?’ and the rest of the story explaining how the city became ruined.
If you have chosen to write a story about time travel you might want to play around with your beginning, your middle and the end of your story. After all, time travellers can go anywhere in space and time, in any order they want. This is fine as long as all the bits of your story join up so that they make sense. Writing a story like this can be quite tricky, because you can sometimes become confused about where your character is going or what part of the story you are writing. Using a story map with simple diagrams and arrows to show the direction your story needs to go in can be really helpful with stories like this.
Story maps are brilliant for planning all sorts of stories. You can use them as a plan to help you organise your ideas before you start writing.
If you get stuck with a tricky part of the story, planning out a story map can really help you to move forward.
Checking your finished story against your story map can help you see where there are bits you might have missed, or bits you need to add to make the story better.
Sometimes it is hard, when we have lots of ideas, or when we don’t have any ideas at all, to know where to begin with a story. Feeling like this can sometimes stop us starting to write. The best thing to do in these situations is to start very simply. You could do this by choosing a word that sums up the kind of thing you want to write about, and writing it in the middle of your page. Use the word as inspiration and fill the rest of the page with words that build on your original word, and use this to help you create great story inspirations. This method is sometimes called Mind Mapping.
You can also use a picture you like for inspiration in the same way.
You could use an object for inspiration.
Sometimes it is something simple, like starting with the words ‘Once upon a time’ that can help you begin. You might not want to keep these words by the time the story is finished, and that’s fine.
Endings are generally best when they have tied up all the elements that you have introduced into the story so that the reader knows exactly what has happened and the ending makes sense to them.
There are exceptions to this rule. There are some stories that end on a cliff hanger, with the hero, dangling from a cliff edge, or just about to be run over by a train. These type of stories usually tell the reader that there will be another story coming along that will tell them what has happened. If you are writing a one off story it is not usual to end with a cliff hanger, but it can be done if you are a very confident writer and you know that this is just what your story needs.