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CWC President Caroline Kenna welcomed everyone to the start of the 2021-2022 season.

David Colllins, Program Chair introduces this month's speaker, Charlie Lovett.

Charlie Lovett -  Thoughts on Beginnings and Endings


1st page of a book has only one purpose: to get reader to turn to the 2nd page.

Beginning are like a suitcase, it is packed.  The rest of the book is to unpack that suitcase. 

Beginnings should create questions in the mind of the readers.  It is a delicate balance so they do not get confused, but enough to have questions that will drive the novel. Should have a 'hook' to get the reader engaged.

The title of the book should also draw readers in. 

Teach your reader how you are going to tell the story at the beginning.  'Rules' for how you will take the reader through their journey.


Endings have to answer all the questions from the beginning of the book.  You make a promise at the beginning of a book that you will answer the all the questions by the end of the book.  This keeps the readers, reading.

Endings should complete the arc for the main character.  There must be resolution.   An interesting way to look at endings is it could be the inverse of your beginning.

How to write a kickass ending. In your book you have 3 level of stakes - the personal stake of protagonist -  the community stake - the universal stake: is good going to triumph or will evil triumph?  Best endings are when it looks like all is lost, and then it has complete reversal.   How are the different level of stakes resolved by the end. 

Endings more than any other part of the book should create an emotional residue with the reader. Think hard about how you want the reader to feel by the end of the book. 

Q&A with Charlie Lovett

Question: Would you say that some of the beginning and ending principles outlined for a novel would also relate to short story writing?

Answer: Not an expert in writing short story.  Yes, the same principles apply.

Question: How do you handle and ending with "feelings" for protagonist in a first-person story?

Answer: It may be easier to engage the reader with what the character's feeling straight to the reader using 1st person.  In a way it cuts out the middle-man.  However, it would then be difficult to make any grand sweeping commentary as you would in 3rd person.

Question: When you start writing on a new project, do you have an idea of how it will end? Or is that opening scene the thing driving your story and you write from there?

Answer: Doesn't always start with the first scene.   Usually starts with characters.  Who they are, where they are - strengths, weaknesses, how reader can relate to them. 

Question: I have been playing around with second person lately, and I find it crushingly difficult and liberating all in the same breath. Do you have any tips on second-person narrative?

Answer: Writing in 2nd person assumes the reader is familiar with world that they are in.  More effective to use sparingly.

Question: Beginning with a precipitating incident seems logical. I realize the incident doesn't have to be "big" (at the moment anyway). But somehow that seems at odds with your suggestion that a beginning has to create the world of the story, especially if that world moves a bit slowly and involves a lot of reflection. Do you try out different beginnings? Write this one, decide against it, then try the next until you find the magic that works?

Answer:  Yes, have tried different beginnings.  Help readers to understand the 'core' of the world they will be in. 

Question: Is accidentally writing yourself into a corner a natural part of the process? Or does it generally signify you are perhaps prioritizing the wrong things and you are offtrack?

Answer: If you create the rules for the world you are in, it will help guide you to where you are going and keep you on track. However, sometimes you may have created a rule that will lead you into a corner and you'll need to rewrite.

Question: I love a book that surprises me in the end. Please talk about how an author develops the surprise, maybe hints at it along the way, but it's still consistent with the story-telling in the beginning?

Answer: Doesn't always know how my own books will end till I write the ending.   However, there needs to be some re-writes to put in the clues and make it consistent with the ending. 

Question: When you talked about the necessity of having a hook at the beginning of a book, you mentioned that the hook might be the style in which you're writing. Can you talk a bit more about that, perhaps offer an example?

Answer: Example - Scrooge -  the writing style is a bit of a surprise.

Question: Have you published a book (or books) where you've been helped to improve the work by your agent or an editor at your press. I'm thinking specifically here of foreshadowing. Never sure how much is enough or when I've added too much. Are there things like this where an outside voice is absolutely necessary?

Answer: Yes, Yes, Yes.  Works with agent, wife, and editor multiple times.  Use whoever you have, family - friends- critique groups.

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