Starting with a book's ending

by Lisa
(Greensboro, NC)

Writing backwards?

Writing backwards?

To be honest, I'm a little disappointed with myself.

I've been writing short stories (for adults) for years. But recently, when my father passed on, I looked for books for my 6 year old son, who was very close to his Grandpa.

I couldn't stand any of them! Either they weren't of much comfort, or they gave "answers" where really there are none. The dead person goes to heaven, the dead person just goes to sleep, the dead person becomes worm food, etc. (You WILL see the dead person in the afterlife, you WON'T see the dead person because there is no afterlife. And on and on.)

I guess I'm a skeptic and I don't like giving kids pat, easy answers that end up feeling like lies when you grow older and learn more. And I'm guessing I'm not the only parent who feels that way.

So there it is: I want to write a children's picture book that resolves with a child EMBRACING the uncertainty of death. I can picture my ending clearly. The boy LIKES that Grandpa left him with a mystery. The problem...

How to get there! I realize that I usually begin writing with a premise, but now I'm trying to begin with, well, an ending. And I'm starting to realize I don't know how to do that. Any ideas? I guess I'm looking for premises that might LEAD to my ending.

Comments for Starting with a book's ending

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Writing backwards from the end?
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Hi, Lisa. Thanks for visiting. You present your predicament very clearly!

The first thing I want to say isn't an answer or an idea, but more of a warning. Chances are you're already aware of this, but you're not only starting with your ending, you're starting with your message. You're going to have to be careful that you don't end up with a story that's too preachy.

Okay, one idea I have is that the boy could have friends from different cultures. Their parents and grandparents all try to offer warm words of wisdom regarding his grandfather's passing, but they really end up just upsetting him since they can't all be "right."

Another idea, which doesn't preclude the first idea, is that grandpa and the boy could have been "mystery buddies." Maybe they read mysteries, or tried to solve mysteries, together. Maybe grandpa was always presenting mysteries to unravel. This was an essential part of their closeness.

You can see then how the "not knowing" that is your ending could actually end up being comfort. Grandfather leaves grandson with the greatest mystery of all, one that the boy can spend a lifetime trying to "solve."

My only other thought is to make sure you're letting yourself consider all different entrance points to the story. For instance, it can start with grandpa healthy, grandpa sick, or grandpa gone. My hunch is that if you start with some good times, the book will have more impact.

Just one person's thoughts!

Mystery buddies
by: Lisa

Steve, I really like the mystery buddies idea. I think I know how to run with it. You really don't mind my using it?

A beginning for your ending
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

I'd be honored! Send royalty checks to...

(Just kidding.)

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