Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Trying to Make Up My Mind – Which is Better? by Jo Ann Brown

Usually I’m very sure of my opinions, but I’m been debating an issue with myself for the last couple of weeks.
What is better: beginnings or endings?
I love beginnings. It’s fun to step off into an adventure in both real life and when reading. Emerging into a place (or a time) I’ve never been before is always a thrill. It doesn’t matter if I’m walking through ruins of a supply depot in northern England left by the Romans over a millennia and a half ago
or taking a virtual reality ride on a banshee in the Avatar section of Disney World for the first time. The chance to experience something new is exciting, the anticipation exquisite. Anything and everything is possible in that moment before everything begins.
But I love endings, too. The feeling I get when I’ve spent a wonderful day with my family or enjoyed a great visit with friends or seen a great movie or finished a book by a favorite author that ended up being even better than I’d imagined. Or such a book by a new-to-me author!
This time of year is all about endings and beginnings. Last month, I finished work on the fourth—and final—book in my Amish Spinster Club series. Immediately after it was done, I started work on the first book in a new Amish series set in lush valleys of the Green Mountains of Vermont. It’s been tough to say good-bye to the Amish Spinster Club characters I’ve spent over a year with as I watched them make homes and lives and find love in northern New York, and now I’m having to get acquainted with a new “cast” in a new location.
Starting a new book is like standing in that long line, inching forward a person at a time, for a ride.
There’s the breathless possibility of something amazing that’s about to begin. I’m not sure where it’ll end up other than my hero and heroine must have their happy ever after ending. Will this be the book that “writes itself” or the one where I have to labor over every word? What surprises are waiting for me in spite of outlining the book in a synopsis? No matter how much time I spend with characters before I put fingers to keyboard, they always hold back something about themselves or their story that they won’t reveal until I’m in the midst of writing the book. Looking forward to those discoveries is part of the excitement that fires me up at the beginning of a project. I love it!
However, I admit that I also love being able to type the words “The End” when I reach the last page of a manuscript. Not that I’m actually done with the manuscript because it’s time then for a red pen and revising. I go through a LOT of red ink during this part of the process. However, I really enjoy revising because I can look at my characters with a different eye than when I’m going through their story with them the first time. No matter how much work awaits, there’s the satisfaction that weeks of work have led to something being completed...and that’s a wonderful feeling!
So now you can see my quandary. What is better: beginnings or endings? Post your opinions...and I’m going to guess nobody is going to say middles, though now that I think about it, being in the middle of something can be great fun, too, can’t it?


  1. Jo Ann, love this post. Like you, I crave the excitement of starting a new book, whether I'm reading or writing. But then the dreaded middle looms. :) For me, The End is sunshine and flowers and words of love and wedding bells. It's the easiest to write. No one dies. The villain is in jail...or totally out of the picture, and everyone is happy, including me! :)

    Of course, then the process starts again...

    Did you write the four books in your Amish Spinster series in one year? Wonderful! You're speedy...and so talented! :)

  2. Jo Ann, I love starting a new book, whether it's writing one or reading one. It's the beginning of an adventure. When writing a book, I usually have an idea of what I want to happen, but it rarely works out the way I had it planned. The end of the book is fulfilling when the hero and heroine end up together, but a little sad in that I have to say goodbye to them...until I read the book again. Or write a series that includes them in the next book.


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