Blue Water Writing: Begin with the End in Mind

I’d like to discuss the notion of “beginning with the end in mind” in general terms before applying the concept to the writing of fiction. In my last post, I discussed writing goals, and in the process of articulating and working towards a goal, we “begin with the end in mind”, as we foresee a future event and then steer our actions towards it. In its humble website, Bovina Elementary School relates the concept of “beginning at the end” to how-to tasks and applies the idea to cooking, navigating, and to playing a puzzle.
Photo by PXFuel
When we read a recipe before cooking a meal, look at a map before driving, and review a picture before creating a puzzle, we are “beginning with the end in mind”.  In these examples, readers are reading the materials about the end, conceptualizing the information, and then producing a result. In these examples, writers enable readers to successfully follow a process to the desired end; the writers themselves began with the end in mind before they designed the process for the readers to follow.
Photo by PXFuel

Imagine the result if the writers of these recipes, maps, and puzzles neglected to consider the end!? If they just threw out a process that led nowhere, readers would be eating something awful, getting lost on the road, and missing those puzzle pieces forever!  Writers of how-to tasks “begin at the end” just as academic writers do when composing thesis statements.  In its ever-resourceful Writing Lab, Purdue Owl aptly alludes to the notion of beginning at the end when discussing the revision of a thesis statement, as does Shaun’s nicely-presented YouTube videos on essay writing.

Photo by PXFuel
“Begin with the end in mind” relates to the construction of various non-fiction texts, and I suspect that the concept is equally important in the writing of fiction. The outlines that I wrote for my first novella, I wrote after I composed and edited the first chapters of the text.  After my last chapter was written, I wanted to rewrite the first chapters, in light of the last chapter, but I didn’t want to throw away all of that text! Anyway, it wasn’t an efficient or effective method.  With this second novella, I am writing first and second drafts of the outline and am moving into varied drafts of storyboarding too, which I will discuss in more detail in my next blog.