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Beginnings, Middles, & Ends

Find out more about Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles, & Ends by Nancy Kress. Hook readers, agents, and editors in the firstthree paragraphs. Make and keep your story's implicit promise to the reader. Build drama and credibility by controlling your prose.
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Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles, & Ends

by Nancy Kress

Writer's Digest Books, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1-59963-219-3

ISBN-10: 1-59963-219-5

$14.99 paperback, 176 pages

Buy the Book!

Read an Excerpt!

Find out how to hook readers, agents, and editors from the first words in this excerpt from Chapter 1: The Very Beginning: Your Opening Scene.

Exclusive Q&A With Nancy Kress

Award-winning novelist Nancy Kress shares her insights into the writing life and her advice for writers.

About the Book

Get your readers’ attention—and keep it—from the first word to the final page.Translating that initial flash of inspiration into a complete story requires careful crafting. So how do you keep your story from beginning slowly, floundering midway, and trailing off at the end? Nancy Kress shows you effective solutions for potential problems at each stage of your story—essential lessons for strong start-to-finish storytelling.

  • Hook readers, agents, and editors in the first three paragraphs.
  • Make and keep your story's implicit promise to the reader.
  • Build drama and credibility by controlling your prose.
  • Consider the price a writer pays for flashbacks.
  • Reveal character effectively throughout your story.

Get the tools you need to get your story off to an engaging start, keep the middle tight and compelling, and make your conclusion high impact. You’ll also find dozens of exercises to help strengthen your short story or novel. Let this resource be your guide to successful stories—from the first word to the last.

About the Author

Nancy Kress is the author of twenty-eight books: three about writing and the rest, fiction of various genres. Her work has garnered her four Nebula Awards and two Hugo Awards. For sixteen years she was the fiction columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine, and now frequently teaches writing at various venues around the country. Nancy lives in Seattle with writer Jack Skillingstead and Cosette, the world’s most spoiled toy poodle.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Story in Your Head

PART I: Beginnings

CHAPTER 1 The Very Beginning: Your Opening Scene

CHAPTER 2 The Later Beginning: Your Second Scene

CHAPTER 3 Help for Beginnings: Early Revision

PART II: Middles

CHAPTER 4 The Middle: Staying on Track

CHAPTER 5 Under Development: Your Characters at Midstory

CHAPTER 6 Help for Middles: Getting Unstuck

PART III: Endings

CHAPTER 7 Satisfying Endings: Delivering on the Promise

CHAPTER 8 The Very End: Last Scene, Last Paragraph, Last Sentence

CHAPTER 9 Help for Endings: The Last Hurrah 

Exclusive Q&A With Nancy Kress 

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