Saturday, December 4, 2010

Last Image

The other night in class I had my students write the last image in their books. At this point most of them are only three or four chapters into their novels. I wrote my last image too. We pay so much attention to the beginning of books, as we should, that I think the end is often neglected. This is our last chance to give our readers a gift. We have traveled a long road with them and they deserve something memorable. We build these fictive worlds out of images--so I think that's where to start with the end. What image do you want to leave them with?

I was surprised by my image--a pair of tail light disappearing around a bend. Seemed very mundane and a little cliched. But then I had them all write scenes that lead up to their image and the scene I wrote pleased me and surprised me and felt right. And it led to the tail lights disappearing.

Also, I think it's exciting to have the ending to head toward. Even if it doesn't stay the ending. It has a kind of weight that can pull you along when you're struggling with the middle, etc.

So try it. Write an image that a novel can head toward and then aim at it. Might even be the first thing you write in a novel.

1 comment:

  1. Dearest Mary,
    You are still mentoring me! Love this post. This is exactly what I am going to do. CS is cold in a drawer and it's time to pull it back out, revise (re-vision), and finish! The end will be a great place to start.