Mirroring a Book’s Beginning at its Ending

A car's rear view mirror is shown as the driver drives into a sunset. The post's title, "Mirroring a Story's Beginning at Its Ending" is superimposed on the left.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Many writers have a hard time with beginning and ending their books. I’ve never had much trouble starting a book (I rarely vary from starting with dialogue between two important characters), but endings I really used to struggle with.

If you’re like me, there’s a technique you could try to see if it makes your book’s ending stronger.  It’s a reflective, or mirroring technique.  The idea is to subtly remind the reader at the book’s close of a similar scene at the beginning of the book. It helps lend a full-circle feel to a story and can offer a satisfying ending for readers and a sense of closure.

I saw an interesting tweet recently from Open Culture.  They featured a supercut by Jacob T. Swinney of the first and final frames of 55 different films, shown side by side. Many of the films had reflective endings–and the ones that resonates the most with me did.

For my books, I use it mainly to re-establish order at the end of the book.  The idea behind these gentle mysteries is to have an idyll at the beginning of the book. Someone destroys the idyll via murders but, by the end, justice is served and peace is restored again. It’s very tidy. The loose ends are tied up.  My characters may be in the kitchen eating tomato sandwiches at the beginnings and ends of the story.  This technique can signify that, although the protagonist has overcome all sorts of trouble and conflict, some things remain, comfortingly, the same.

But you can get fancy with this technique, and expand it into other areas of your story.  Fantasy writer Janice Hardy has some great ideas in this post on working other mirroring techniques into your story. As she explains the role of these types of mirrors:

Mirrors aren’t just copies, but ideas and themes reflected in characters and situations around the protagonist. Sometimes they match the protagonist’s emotions or choices, other times they reflect the opposite, but they deepen the story by allowing the protagonist (and reader) to “experience” other potential outcomes without derailing the story. Stakes become more real when we see them occur, and the right mirror can do a world of foreshadowing and raise the tension.

Do you use mirroring techniques in your stories?  For endings, or in other ways?  As a reader, is this something you notice or find satisfying?

Using mirroring techniques in a story: Click To Tweet

Photo via Visualhunt

Twitterific Writing Links

Bluebird with beak open and 'Twitterific Writing Links' by ElizabethSCraig superimposed on the image

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

A weekly roundup of the best writing links from around the web.

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 40,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and see the character and location name generators!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.  :)

Continue reading Twitterific Writing Links

How I Came To Follow My Dream: A Personal Journey

Green hills and a road leading off into fog is the backdrop for the post 'How I Came to Follow My Personal Dream" by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

By Selina Siak Chin Yoke, @SiakChinYoke

With the publication of my debut novel, The Woman who Breathed Two Worlds, by Amazon Crossing in 2016, I achieved a long-cherished dream. And when the book made a strong emotional connection with readers, I began to understand how affirming it was to realise an ambition that touched me to my core. Somehow it forced me to review my life.

When I looked back, I wondered why I had delayed pursuing a passion for so long.

No doubt my employment history contributed: the jobs I held were interesting and generally well-paid. Even if none of them fired me up.

You might have thought that a brain tumor would be a wake-up call. It was – to a point. The tumor was in an accessible spot and therefore operable. Because it was also benign, I was spared chemo and left the hospital after a week. The event was serious, yet somehow also not. In many ways, it felt like a blip, not a brush with death. I continued living the way I had, but swore that if I ever had another critical illness, I would alter my life. Continue reading How I Came To Follow My Dream: A Personal Journey

Writing Routines: Rethinking What Works

An old-fashioned alarm clock is pictured on the right side of the picture and the post title, Writing Routines: Rethinking What Works is on the left.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Routines are wonderful–until they’re not.

I’m a very routine-driven writer. Actually, I’m routine-driven, period.  I’m a lot more productive when I can keep my malfunctioning brain out of my process…if I run on automatic pilot.

I think my changing routines will resonate with any writing parents.

When I had small children, my routine was to write while my son was in elementary school and my daughter was either watching Elmo’s World (she’d only watch 5 minutes of television) or napping.  I’d get my daughter settled and then open up my laptop.

This worked well–until it didn’t.  My daughter stopped taking naps, but she started with preschool. I could write (and do a million other things) while she was in school.

That, naturally, didn’t stay the routine for very long.  Before I knew it, both of my children were in school and I was fitting in writing and editing and building an online platform for myself in between carpools and errands and other things.

Soon they were in different schools with different hours of operation. This meant a couple of different carpools.  I learned to write while in carpool lines.

When they grew older and got up very early for school (the high school late bell is 7:20), I got up an hour before they did to work while the day was still fresh and full of possibilities.  I found that, sometimes, days could be knocked dramatically off-course as the day went on.

We got a new corgi puppy on Friday. :)  I have a feeling that, once again, my morning routines are going to be changing.

A tri-color corgi puppy named Finn who belongs to author Elizabeth Spann Craig.
Finn

The point is that it’s good to evaluate what works every now and then. I used to think very self-limiting things: I can only work well in the mornings. But then I found the more flexible I could be with my schedule and my writing, the more I could get accomplished.

Over the years, I’ve asked myself:

Besides first thing in the morning (which always works for me), when else can I fit in writing time?

Am I too distracted at home?  If so, is the library or a coffee shop better?

If I write later in the day, how does it go? Is it a good or a bad draft?

Do you ever change up what works? Has anyone else had dramatic changes in what works for them?

Writing routines: re-evaluating what works: Click To Tweet

 

Photo credit: Βethan via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Twitterific Writing Links

Bluebird with beak open and 'Twitterific Writing Links' by ElizabethSCraig superimposed on the image

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

A weekly roundup of the best writing links from around the web.

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 40,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and see the character and location name generators! 

And…I have a new release!  Cooking is Murder, Myrtle Clover #11, released yesterday.

Continue reading Twitterific Writing Links