How do you find the end?

Dear Fellow Journalers,

While your opening sentence grabs the readers’ attention and makes them want to keep reading your story, your ending paragraphs  or sentences give the summation of the story and the satisfactory aspects you want the reader to take into their lives.

Just as you struggle with that pesky first sentence, the last sentence depends on the way you’re feeling about your story/novel. Some writers are “fed up” with their novel – they want it to end now! Some writers have grown to love their characters and don’t want the story to end. One interesting aspect is that you may have written the final sentence already. How do you find the end?

  1. Re-read your draft and think about the structure of the story. Where is the sentence that solves the conflict, the climax has been reached, the heroine solves the mystery or realized that she really does love ____. End the story after that sentence.

  2. Think of your story as a series of questions and answers. Your narrator supplies the questions and in some cases the answers. When you’ve supplied all the answers, end the story.

3.  End your story on a note of hope for the future of your characters.

4.  Your last lines should teach a lesson, leave a memorable image or a satisfying sigh “Oh I just love this book!”

5.  Suppose you want to write a sequel, your last lines should make the reader want to buy/borrow your next book. The main character becomes estranged, the love triangle shatters, the roof falls……….

The following are some endings of books I have read:

“Life is not a sprint. It was never meant to be. It is just one step of faith at a time.” A step of Faith  by Richard Paul Evans

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far far better rest that I go to than I have known.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

” Hope,” I say, “once upon a time there was a girl who loved the stars so much she took a ride on a rocket ship.” The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

and finally the beginning of the last paragraph of The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Arthur Conan Doyle:

“It is a formidable difficulty, and I fear that you ask too much when you expect me to solve it. The past and the present are within the field of my inquiry, but what a man may do in the future is a hard question to answer.”

‘Til next time,


Novel Beginings

Dear Fellow Journalers,

     I don’t know about you, but I often have difficulty writing that first sentence. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a letter, a blog post or your novel. How many times can you re-write a sentence?

     Your beginning is where the reader decides to keep reading. You want to keep the reader engaged and captivated. So here are some ideas (remember to write them down!)

1.       Make the reader wonder about something. No ready answer to the nagging question.

2.       Start with a problem.

3.       Start in the middle of the story.

4.       Introduce the main character and settings.

5.       Start with background information.


Here are some examples:

     “it looked dead, but I began to back away just in case.”

     “Katie Donovan’s heart pounded in rhythm with the sound of hoof beats on the road behind her.” 

                                                                     Mama’s Bible by Mildred Colvin

     “The execution of Nathan Hale on September 22, 1776, was the lowest point in a month of low points for General George Washington.”    George Washington’s Secret Six by Kilmeade


‘Til next time,


Novel writing Prompts

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Even experience novel writers need prompts!

  1. You have been given a magical pad of paper that makes everything that is written on it become a reality. What do you write and what is your reasoning behind it?
  2. Talk about a time when a piece of writing changed you. Whether it is something you wrote or something you read. Describe how and why this piece made the world a different place.
  3. You were digging around some old stuff and you found some of your writing from long ago in your past. You can’t even remember writing about it but it is truly amazing. Talk about what you do with it, who you show it to and what eventually happens as a result.
  4. The writing from your computer’s hard drive was somehow sent to all of  your family and friends and acquaintances. The material includes the stuff you were afraid to share with everybody. What do you do?
  5. You are in a room with the five living writers who inspire you the most. What do you talk about?


‘Til next time,



     Dear Fellow Journalers,

          Without ideas, there are no words. Without words, there are no books. Ideas are the things that drive your writing. You can have all the skills and experience but without ideas, your pages will be empty. So where do you get ideas?

1.       Take a popular idea and add something to it.

2.       Think like a kid by asking questions over and over again.

3.       “What if?” What if your main character narrated the story? What if you interjected a major event into the story?


     Before you “go crazy” with this theme, get out a journal page and write Ideas on the top line. Your next great idea will not live long in your mind unless you write it down.


4.       Employ your five senses in creating the setting for your book. Start by reading a poem or story that’s rich in expressions of locale. While I absolutely love the “Murder She Wrote” series by Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher, I relish the descriptions of the places the main character finds herself, the clothing of the characters, the sights and sounds

5.       Next write about taste, smell, sound and touch. Finally in one sentence, sum up the mood you want to convey in your setting.


Some more idea sources are:

     A television program or movie, a painting, conversation, people-watching, lecture, holiday, family relationship and beautiful landscape.

     One thing can lead into another. For instance:

          Romeo and Juliet became West Side Story.

          Pygmalion became My Fair Lady

          My Fair Lady became Pretty Woman.

What are your ideas?

‘Til next time,



Warm Ups

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Do you warm up your mind before writing? I struggle sometimes in writing this blog, especially this year. It’s easy to skim articles and write blithely about topics related to journaling. It’s quite another thing to plunge your mind and body into content journaling.

I had help though this year in that I taught a journaling class at a local library and my students shared their stories with me. I picked the topics last December and figured I’d always be upbeat and enthusiastic however, not this month! Maybe it’s the weather, temps over 85°, illness – whatever the reason, Your Next Novel remained illusive.

The kaleidoscope of ideas crowed my mind and I found it hard to focus. The inner critic reared its head big time – “You are an imposter!” “You’ve never had anything published!” “You can’t write a novel.” Hmmmm.

I literally threw the critic’s ideas in jail and checked out for warm ups for writing. Here are some of my tips:

  1. Listen to music. Music is a great way to free your mind from conscious thought, especially if it’s a tune you like.
  2. Drag out your adult coloring books. You have to focus on composition, color wheels and your creativity.
  3. Do a crossword puzzle. You’ll broaden your vocabulary as you wordplay.
  4. Write about how you can’t focus. (Basically that’s why I am writing now!) Write about all the things that you’d rather be doing right now.
  5. Play a brain game on the internet.
  6. Here’s an interesting thought: take your main character out for a spin. Write about his/her adventures in another genre, time frame or relationship. I just finished reading Murder In Time by  this book is the summer read for the Big Read (an international ebook Club). The murders are set in England in 1815 and the heroine is a modern FBI agent who got sucked into a time travel tunnel. Imagine if this murder mystery was set in 2016 in America – different huh?!


Flex your writing muscles, gang and let’s go!

‘Til next time,



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