Begin at the End: An Effective Strategy for Leads


Ever notice how many books begin with a marriage or a funeral? You wouldn’t think that knowing how things turn out could generate much suspense, but in fact such openings beg the question of HOW and WHY such things happened. This is the source of suspense for scenes that begin at the end.

On the day that Pablo Escobar was killed, his mother, Hermilda, came to the place on foot. She had been ill earlier that day and was visiting a medical clinic when she heard the news. She fainted…. -From the opening of, Killing Pablo, by Mark Bowden.

Bowden tells us immediately that Pablo died, but the opening also raises many questions: how did he die? Who was involved? How would his family react to it? These questions generate plenty of suspense, indeed, it’s nearly impossible to put the book down once you’ve read the first ten pages.

This is just one of the many techniques I discuss in my Seattle writing classes. Let me know if you’d like to sign up.