top of page

End with the beginning

Updated: Feb 25

Your copy-editor should be your sharpest critic and your closest friend.

After the initial edit of my last book, the copy-editor announced that, compared with the previous three books in the series, it 'lacked something'. They then went onto to list one or two issues that needed to be resolved.

Among those were aspects that were interconnected but, for reasons I could not see first time round, I had not expressed clearly to the reader. What should I do?

I slept on it. The next day I had an idea: what if I re-wrote the beginning?

So I did; and it worked. (At least I hope it has!)

Just to give you some idea of exactly what I mean, by end with the beginning (aka writing the beginning of the story last) , here are the things lacking, and how I addressed each one.

* Within the run of the main plot, I had left things out.

I had assumed my reader knew what I meant, or the context of what was going on, without actually explaining myself. All the things that I knew were going on in the backdrop to what I had written - important things - I had left out on the page.

I was able to 'fill those gaps' in a new beginning.

* Some relationships between characters, or timing of events, or the significance of parts played by minor characters, was not obvious.

So I gave those features, events and characters 'more coverage' in the new beginning which, in turn, added more context - at the beginning of the story.

* The ending was 'OK', I guess...

but it wasn't as compelling as I would have liked. It lacked gravitas. Here's where the new beginning really worked. It now had purpose.

Just to explain.

I didn't write a new 'Chapter One'. No. The new section I introduced sat outside the main chapter sequence.

Here's how I achieved it :

I applied different section heading titles

It helps if you call it something different, such as Preface; Prologue, or Prequel.

That way, you give yourself a free rein on what to include within your 'New Beginning'.

(It also means that you don't necessarily have to re-write any of the existing chapters - but I suggest you still check them afterwards for continuity.)

Another approach might be to give it a totally separate title, such as 'Ten Years Earlier', or 'How it all began...'. When it comes to it, you'll know what to do.

The important part to stress here is that you will have FINISHED THE WHOLE STORY BEFORE EMBARKING ON THE NEW BEGINNING.

Give your book 'a new start'

For reasons I cannot explain, that's what gives it a new purpose, a new energy.

That's because you have already written the story from (the original) start to finish. You know what happens; you know what's missing; and you 'discover' ways to breathe new life and depth into what you have already written.

But (or at least in my case), there is an added bonus.

Improve the ending, thanks to your new beginning

You may find that you are revisiting the ending, with ideas on how to improve that, too.

Some aspects may be essential to ensure that the story still 'flows' - e.g. if you have introduced some new element in the new beginning. In my case, I was able to inject a new twist and a slightly modified outcome, which seemed to 'round off the whole book nicely'.

I suppose the principle to bear in mind (and I am quoting others, this is not my original idea) - is that you need a good ending so that you leave readers with a sense that what they have just read was worthwhile and memorable; but you especially need a good beginning, otherwise readers with give up after a few pages, and you may have lost them as future followers.

You be the judge...

but, for me I'm convinced. I proved it in my third book in the series: The Black Rose of Blaby, in which I applied this technique.

Also in the series are the following...take a peak now.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page