What’s more important: Beginning or end?

Cover graphic for Into the water by paula hawkinsIn a recent Globe and Mail article, Paula Hawkins (of The Girl on the Train fame) is interviewed on the occasion of her new novel Into the Water. I was intrigued by what Hawkins had to say about the beginning and ending of a novel.

What’s more important: The beginning of a book or the end?

The beginning, I would say, because without it you do not know what sort of ending is possible, without the beginning, no sort of ending is possible. I understand that from a reader’s perspective, a satisfying conclusion is critical to one’s enjoyment of a book, but from an author’s point of view, the beginning of a novel is at once hopeful and dangerous. The beginning of a book holds within it a world of possibility, a whole network of potential paths and tracks to follow. Choose the wrong one, and you may find yourself writing entirely the wrong book.

Hmm. Since I am right now considering this question, Paula Hawkins’s words have got me thinking.

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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

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5 Responses

  1. I’d have to say they’re equally important. The beginning starts the story and draws the reader into it. The end is likely what the reader will remember most about the story, and will be the deciding factor on whether they read any other of the author’s works.

  2. Very interesting thought, I have always favoured endings over beginnings. Perhaps this is because I haven’t thought about it in depth. This is a question to ponder…

  3. For me, it’s the ending. I want to know that so I can create the crooked path to getting there.

  4. I would say beginning, because if the beginning does not capture the reader’s interest, the likelihood of them reading to the end is a lot less and for some, they will just toss the book aside.

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