Disclaimer: Everyone writes differently and what styles and techniques I use that I think work well, you may think are bullshit. Remember too that this is for people new to writing, or people who want to further their skills in a more casual way that doesn’t require them to google every second word you use x
So I’m sure in your creative writing lessons when you were like, seven years old, you heard that all stories had a beginning, a middle and an end. And, if you were like me, you thought this was just boring bullshit and ignored it until you actually started writing and realised that it was actually kind of important.
I think the main reason I hated the whole beginning, middle and end thing, was because it implied that every story I wrote had to feature a villain and a hero, and that it would have to be an action/adventure story which I didn’t want to write! As you can see from the plot I came up with a few parts ago, I tend to lean towards contemporary/YA, and even though I have written action stories, they aren’t really my favourite to write!
But, as I got more into writing and I tried harder to become a better writer, I realised that it didn’t matter what I was writing, it was going to have a beginning, a middle and an end.
In this lesson, I’m going to show you what you’re school may have led you to believe was a beginning, middle and end, and I’m also going to show you what you’re actual beginning, middle and end could look like, or, if it’s easier for you to think of it in these terms: Part I, Part II and Part III. I’m also going to show you how I would decide what the beginning, middle and end of Justin and Sophie’s story would look like, which will also help to give it more detail and further develop my plot!
I was always told in school that this is where you hook your readers with the first sentence, and you introduce the who, what, when, where and why, which I personally hated. When you’re writing, you do need to hook your readers, but you also don’t need to do it in the first SENTENCE for gods sake. I have never opened a book and then instantly shut it because after the first line I wasn’t completely and emotionally invested in this story, so don’t worry about your first sentence. Yes, your first chapter will have to be somewhat interesting enough to keep readers interested, but that also doesn’t mean you have to introduce your entire plot right then and there. Introduce a character or two and definitely give us the setting and timeline, but make sure you keep people wanting more! Pretend you’re throwing us a few random pieces of a jigsaw puzzle each chapter! This way, in the first few chapters you leave your readers wanting more, and pretty quickly it’ll start coming together more clearly and by this point your readers should be hooked!
I’m also proud to say that I came up with a title for the plot example I gave you guys! (See below) It’s title is Gladiolus, which is a flower that represents strength and moral integrity, as Hope and Sophie end up with a florist shop and I think it took a lot of strength from Sophie to leave Justin.
Justin and Sophie have been in love since the 11th grade, marrying not long after graduating (<< Give yourself some backstory to work with). When Justin cheats on Sophie with her best friend, Sophie decides that there’s no way either of them can win her back and chooses to quit her job and move to the small, quaint town on the outskirts of the city she once lived in. There, she rediscovers herself, and explores her sexuality further after meeting Hope, a widowed woman with a love for gardening. As their relationship blossoms, Sophie can’t help but distinguish the difference between how Hope treats her and how Justin treats her, making her learn just how truly toxic the relationship is. Maybe though with this new partner, Sophie can live the life she deserves, running the local florist with her soulmate, Hope.
The beginning of this story should be obvious, but in case it’s not, I’ll tell you. Sophie finding out about the affair, Justin, Sophie and Sophie’s friend being introduced and a bit of backstory from Justin and Sophie’s relationship would be the beginning of this story. It’s important to remember too that your beginning doesn’t have to be shoved into the first chapter and/or prologue, you can take a few chapters if you’d like x
The second grade taught me that the middle is where the ‘rising tension’ takes place and towards the end of the middle the ‘climax’ or ‘final battle’ happens, the hero inevitably wins and everyone loves them. Gladiolus’s middle obviously won’t work this way and your stories middle doesn’t have to either. Another great way to think of it is this: The beginning is your character deciding or being told that they have to go on a journey, the middle is the characters journey, and the end is what the character went on the journey for. This makes it a lot easier for me to decide what Gladiolus’s middle is!
The middle will simply be Sophie’s journey, Hope will be introduced and everything that happens between then and Sophie’s happily ever after is going to be the journey/middle. No ‘rising tension’, no ‘climax’, no sword fights or gun fights or deaths or anything like that, it’s just Sophie rediscovering herself and realising how magical her life with Hope can be.
I was taught that the ending was called the ‘resolution’ or ‘conclusion’ and that it took place directly after the ‘climax’ and it was basically where everything was magically fixed and the world went back to normal!
Fun fact: The world that you’ve created does not have to go completely back to normal just mere seconds after the antagonist or the villain has been arrested or defeated or whatever happens in your story. Your characters are allowed to take time to recover, and you’re allowed to write about their recovery. If one of your characters ends up with PTSD, or depression after something significant that has happened, A) do your research and write it properly, and B) if you’ve done a good enough job throughout the story already, believe me, your readers will want to see your character have their happy ending and work past their mental illness.
For Gladiolus, the ending would be Hope and Sophie together, in love, owning the local florist shop, mentally and spiritually happy and healthy, and just loving life. Sophie doesn’t have to forgive Justin and her friend, but she can thank them as she would never have met Hope if they didn’t go behind her back. It’s a happy ending (obviously) but I feel like it’s important to say that your story doesn’t have to have a happy ending! You can make it tragic if you want, and you can end it on a cliffhanger if you want to write a sequel! xx
Summary: Don’t be afraid to get creative and go against the “guidelines”. It’s your story and you can plan the beginning, middle and end how you want!