Friday, September 15, 2017

Writing Exercise #14: Endings As Beginnings

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes novels. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.  

Every writer goes through dry seasons. Seasons of time where the words just won't do their thing. They're either stuck in your head or hiding from you entirely. If you're lucky enough to get them out of your pen and onto the page, the sentences are ugly and you find yourself wondering if you've forgotten how to write stories.

It happens to us all. It really does. The only way to claw out of a dry season like that is to {wait for it} write your way through it.

I know. I know. It's rough. It is. And I'm a huge advocate of taking time off when you need time off, but at some point, you're going to have to sit back down in that chair and knock the rust off. One of the best ways to do that is to just write.

"WRITE ABOUT WHAT?" you ask.

My answer is a simple one. Write about anything. Write about nothing. Just write.

The internet is full of writing prompts--and you should totally avail yourselves of those--but sometimes cyberspace can be like all those rabbit holes little girls fall into. There are so many options to choose from. So many shiny ideas. You just keep falling and falling and never getting any writing done.

So, today, instead of trolling Pinterest for writing prompts, I want you to grab the nearest book (puh-lease keep in PG, alright?). Flip to the very last page and put your finger on the very last sentence.

That, my friends, is your beginning. That's right. The last line of the book in your hand is the first line of your shiny new paragraph.

I want you to write me that paragraph and leave it in the comments section below. And then be sure to come back throughout the weekend to see what you're friends are coming up with. We all need a little encouragement now and then.

A couple things:

1. We frown on spoilers here, so please do not tell us the name of the book and if there are recognizable names in the final sentence (like Katniss or Hermione), do us a favor and change them.

2. Your goal is not to continue the book your holding. Use this sentence as a jumping off point. Start something new. Something that's all yours.

3. And, remember! When you participate in our writing exercises you can enter to win an opportunity to ask Jill, Steph and me a question for one of our upcoming writing panels. Once you leave your response to the writing prompt in the comments section, use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Next week, Rafflecopter will select one winner and we'll contact you for your question via email. Happy writing, friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Then, there was nothing. The house, though still standing, was charred and burned. There was nothing left. I looked to McKenzie, who was staring on in horror at where her family home was. "It's all gone."
    Her words came out choked as a sob shook her body. Whoever did this was going to pay. I would make sure of it.


  2. Long live the Chihuahuas.
    Great Aunt Marge's chihuahuas, to be exact. They're scrawny, slobbering flea bitten little runts. And I'm going to walk them this summer. Every. Day.
    I told Mom it wasn't my fault--how did I know the other kids' idea of a Last-day-of-school party was a little wild? It wasn't like I did anything bad. In fact, I left. Early. Before the cops came.
    Whatever. It doesn't matter. Now I'm headed to Lubbock, Texas, to stay at Great Aunt Marge's house. For the whole summer.
    Long live the chihuahuas?
    Yeah. Right.

    Sheesh...Shannon! Now I want to write this book, I don't know who the POV character is but I've already got ideas for her growth/change arc. Aargh! Too. Many. Ideas.

    Thanks for the great prompt! So fun.

  3. Three weeks later, the newspaper published this advertisement: 'FOX IS DEAD.'
    A strange chill settled over my body as I read the words. If the mysterious criminal, known only as "Fox", was truly dead, then who was sneaking around my house last night?
    I remember seeing shadows outside my windows. A single, unmistakable silhouette. Fox is - was - the only criminal who wore a fur cloak. That's how he got his name.
    But if Fox was dead, then who did I see?

  4. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Sarah waked up in the morning. All night, every night, he would guard his sister from the demons that lurk in the shadows and the goblins that crept in the dark. She was his little sister, and he wasn't going to let anything hurt her, ever.

    As far back as she could remember, Travis was always there whenever she woke up in the pitch black. When she was younger, she thought that he never slept, but he was just a light sleeper. In the cot across the room, in the armchair by the bed - there he would toss and turn, always ready to protect her if she needed it. Always ready to smile at her reassuringly whenever she awoke from dreamland, there to whisper "It's all right, go back to bed." Always - until now.

    I changed the name because it was a significant one, and changed the gender of that character to simplify things (er - one, I wanted the character to be girl, and two, pronouns get mixed up so easily.) But I had so much fun with this - and want to write this book now! This was a great exercise - thank you!!

    1. I loved this one, good job! =)
      I also recognized right away which book the prompt/ending came from.

  5. All was well.
    At least, Kendra hoped so. She had prayed for Derick to wake up for months and months, and now the doctor was certain. Derick was going to wake up, and he was going to be fine. More than fine, the doctor had assured her. Derick was going to wake up with all his memories.
    Kendra took a shaky breath, and slowly let it out, never loosing her tight hold on his hand.
    All was well.

  6. He could afford that. There wasn't much Aaron couldn't afford, really, with the fortune his father had left me. Buying a young, wide-eyed stranger a drink in a bar was nothing. Maybe this boy would be the one understood him. He smiled. "Come on, then. Tell me about yourself."


  7. "Why has Joe Hasting's leavin' caused such a tear into your heart?"
    I sighed. Did he have to ask? I knew Steven meant well, but why did my brother always stick his nose into my business? If Steven found out why Joe had run off, he would kill him! But after thinking about what that boy had done for a minute, I decided maybe that it wouldn't be so bad if he ended up dead. At least it would prevent him from doing more harm to someone else.

  8. "They are rebuilding Coroness."
    He could not believe his ears. He stared at the other man, his mind working furiously, his mouth open but no sound coming out. Coroness could not be rebuilt. Coroness should not be rebuilt.
    The other man said nothing, only watching him as if awaiting his reaction. He found his voice at last.
    "No. No. It cannot be. That city should be left in ruin. No one is to touch it!"

  9. Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is! These words were not spoken aloud. Black ink written in a spidery hand brought them into existence. The words began to crawl across the page, pulling themselves along until they wriggled off the page itself with a loud pop. Then out of the book sprang a man exactly identical to the author. It was followed by another and another. All of them copies of the books author. All of them homunculi. They set forth to do as they were commanded and destroy the world that was, starting with the author's own conceptions about his work.

  10. "Well, I'm back," he said.

    I looked at him.

    Months and months had passed. So many things had happened. And when he left on that ship with his hands tied behind his back, I thought that I was never going to see him again.

    I didn't know what to say.

    He must have misunderstood the confusion on my face, because he looked upset. "I-"

    I walked forward and embraced my brother.

    "I missed you," I whispered.


  11. "Well, yes," he added, in a tone of corroboration--"Q.E.F."
    "Quarrelsome Elders Flee," I suggested. "Quiet Every Female."
    "Don't be ridiculous," Rodham said. We bent over the message once more. "It must be an organization," R. mused.
    "Could it be one outside of the country?" I asked.
    "Outside...outside..." he muttered, "outside! Queen's Elite Force! Of course!"
    I looked at him in horror, then at the telegram. The black letters swelled with malice. Q. E. F.!

  12. I'm having fun trying to identify which books these book endings/prompt beginnings come from. I have identified two so far.

    Sorry, my own response is pretty rubbish, but since I wrote it I thought I might as well share it. You don't have to read it. Go on and skip ahead to the next comment.

    When the long winter nights come on and the wolves follow their meat into the lower valleys, she may be seen running at the head of the pack through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic above her fellows, her great throat a-bellow as she sings a song of the younger world, which is the song of the pack.

    Even in winter, she runs barefoot. Her rags are lashed to her tiny body with fraying bands of twine, covering only what is essential.

    “She is a witch,” the villagers say.

    She knows what they say. She knows they lie. She cannot stop them from lying.

    But she will have her vengeance.

    As the red sun sinks and the white moon rises, she sends the song of the pack far over the rivulets and the mountains, to the distant crags where lonely birds cry, to the thin veil of cloud where silence reigns.

    The villagers, they do not know the song of the pack. Otherwise they would make ready.

    She sings the song every night now.

    “She is possessed,” they say in the deep hours, for the sleepless song keeps them awake. “She is half-devil.”

    She knows what they say. She will have her vengeance.

    The Counting of Days has begun.

    1. This is not rubbish. This is very good!

  13. "Oh, yes, Jude," she said. "You and I are going to have LOTS of fun," she said.
    She failed to mention that her idea of "fun" involved, well...
    Nevermind what it involved.
    My life is rubbish.
    It all started when you-know-who decided to re-activate the minefield under Aunt Bertha's dumpster bins, which, by the way, reeked of rotten turnips. Nasty little life forms, turnips.
    What's that? You don't know who? Yeah, I know. HAHAHAHA. Don't try to find out, cause if you do, you'll be as miserable as the turnips in Aunt Bertha's dumpster bin, even after they were blown up.
    Although really, if you ask me, they were better off in little pieces all over Mr. Fischer's immaculately dusted cherry-red door.
    I ask you, who dusts their door?

    ~Isabelle Thom

  14. The dome would hold for as long as it could. The last time it broke chaos escaped. Now our enemies might find another way out. A more permanent one. But this time we knew about it. We would be ready to fight to protect the kingdom once the dome went down. Last time it cracked we were able to save the day. A second round will be no different. Just with more enemies, which meant we could fight dirty.

  15. Okay, I know it's probably particularly horrendous, but here we go:
    Tomorrow she would pick the last of the buckberries and take them to Old Bob Anderson. It would be the perfect chance to take a closer look at his house. All the townsfolk said he was the one responsible for Jacob Gregory's disappearance, that he'd locked him away in his basement.

    If that were true, perhaps she could find some proof. For the rest of the evening, she scoured the records and made her plan. Her father poked his head in the door, his experimental bangs hanging in his eyes.

    "You want any ice cream, Hannah?"

    Hannah dumped the scattered papers into a drawer and covered them with irrelevant documents, "I'll be right there."
    She could make time for frozen treats. After all, if Mr. Anderson really was as dangerous as they said, this could well be her last chance for dessert.
    The character from the first sentence originally had a different name. This was a fun challenge, and I enjoyed reading all the others.

  16. For once, I didn’t look back.

    Because if I didn’t go then, I wouldn’t ever get away. So I didn’t glance back – not when I collapsed into the dirt beneath the barbed fence. Not when I crawled on my grated knees underneath the headlights. So I just ran, one battered trainer after the other, down the rocky hill, and past the bare shrub Jess was shot down at, and along the cliff top that crumbles into the jagged boulders below and that the frothing ocean beats and beats.

    Not until my ankle clicks. And I fall. And the sirens wail from above.