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– 9 – - Beginnings and endings; tension and pace

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2022

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Summary

The function of the beginning of a story. You don’t have to get the opening right before you can make any progress. Different kinds of openings. Starting with exposition. Starting in medias res. The necessity of having a sense of an ending while writing. Judging when to stop. The importance of how the story lands, rather than where it ends. The role of tension in a story. The cliffhanger. Arousing the reader’s curiosity. The importance of pace and how to sustain it. Methods of interrogating your writing for tension and pace.

‘Each chapter needs a narrative function. If you can’t summarise the purpose of a chapter you would be wise to check that it really does have a function. The other way to interrogate your writing for pace and tension is to ask yourself: What does the reader want to know at the end of this chapter?’

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The Book You Need to Read to Write the Book You Want to Write
A Handbook for Fiction Writers
, pp. 161 - 183
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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