Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends

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Writer's Digest Books, Mar 15, 1999 - Reference - 149 pages
52 Reviews

Get your stories off to a roaring start.
Keep them tight and crisp throughout.
Conclude them with a wallop.

Is the story or novel you've been carrying around in your head the same one you see on the page? Or does the dialogue suddenly sound flat and predictable? Do the events seem to ramble?

Translating a flash of inspiration into a compelling story requires careful crafting. The words you choose, how you describe characters, and the way you orchestrate conflict all make the difference—the difference between a story that is slow to begin, flounders midway, or trails off at the end—and one that holds the interest of readers and editors to the final page.

By demonstrating effective solutions for potential problems at each stage of your story, Nancy Kress will help you...

  • hook the editor on the first three paragraphs
  • make—and keep—your story's "implicit promise"
  • build drama and credibility by controlling your prose
Dozens of exercises help you strengthen your short story or novel. Plus, you'll sharpen skills and gain new insight into...
  • the price a writer pays for flashbacks
  • six ways characters should "reveal" themselves
  • techniques for writing—and rewriting
Let this working resource be your guide to successful stories—from beginning to end.


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I admire Nancy Kress as a scifi writer. - Goodreads
Some of the tips will be useful, though not all. - Goodreads
Kress is a great teacher of writing. - Goodreads
This writing book serves as a great roadmap. - Goodreads
I'd recommend this book to anyone writing fiction. - Goodreads
As the title explains, beginnings, middles and endings. - Goodreads

Review: Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)

User Review  - Mike - Goodreads

This was excellent, not least because it's very well laid out, with a clear flow from point to point and chapter to chapter. (As you would hope from a book on beginnings, middles and ends.) All too ... Read full review

Review: Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)

User Review  - Lauren - Goodreads

Really helpful book. I loved the author's approach to dealing with a story holistically. This is a book I return to again and again when writing. Read full review

All 6 reviews »

Selected pages


The Very Beginning Your Opening Scene
The Later Beginning Your Second Scene
Help for Beginnings Early Revision
The Middle Staying on Track
Under Development Your Characters at Midstory
Help for Middles Getting Unstuck
Satisfying Endings Delivering on the Promise
The Very End Last Scene Last Paragraph Last Sentence
Help for Endings The Last Hurrah

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About the author (1999)

Nancy Kress is an author who won Best Novella at the Nebula Awards 2014 for her title Yesterday's Kin.

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