Knowing Your Ending From the Beginning by Kimberly Sabatini

This month on the YA Outside the Lines Blog we are talking about endings. More specifically, knowing your ending from the beginning.

I was a dedicated pantser. If you're not familiar, it's a writer who drafts their novel by the seat of their pants. Pantsers are exploratory drafters, using creative exploration to work their way through their book.

They sit down. 
The act of pressure on their rear ends triggers the creative process.
They revise a lot later.

Or something like that. 

 I won't bore you with my epiphany about the joys and benefits of prior planning, but I will tell you that I'll never go back to being a pantster again. For most of us, it's an illusion. I'm not saying you can't write a down and dirty draft, but I am saying you should do a lot of strategic planning before you attempt it.

And I'm also saying that before you start your book, you should know your ending. 

I've been reading about this in multiple locations, but this is the clearest and most concise way to sum it up that I've seen...

I see a pantser in the back row, raising her hand. "Yes, ma'am?"

"I just can't write that way! I have to discover as I go along!"

"And you know what you'll discover? That you have to force an 
ending onto all that material you've come up with. So you'll go back
and try to change, mix and match, only to discover there are too
many plot elements you can't alter without changing everything
else around it, so you'll end up compromising at the end. Sometimes
it will work, but even popular writers who do it this way only bat
around .400 on their endings."

--James Scott Bell 

I've been learning about this kind of pre-planning in several incredible books that I feel compelled to share with all my writer friends. I know January 1st is a big day for lots of writers. They start fresh or just get down to business after a hectic holiday season. So here are some of those book recommendations that will help you to know your ending from the beginning...

James Scott Bell
Bite size nuggets of truth for the taking.

The science of story and my scaffolding for prewriting.

SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder
Not just for screen writers!

If you've got any other books or advice on knowing your ending from the beginning, please feel free to share. I'm obsessed. 


  1. For as long as I can remember, I've always come up with the ending of each of my books first, and then work out the key plot points that will bring my characters to that place. I love endings, they're my favourite part of the story.

  2. Great post and thanks for the book suggestions.

  3. Thank you for introducing me to these books! You've made this former pantser a convert. :)

  4. TOTALLY TOTALLY agree. Love Save the Cat. Also love Wired for Story.

  5. I completely agree! I can't write until I know the story's ending and its title. In fact, I was asked to write a new ending for my debut novel... that required a rewrite of 2/3 of the book.


Post a Comment