The Beginning Mirrors the End (and Vice Versa)

Every story is about change and the simplest way to identify your story’s change is to define the beginning and ending of your story. The beginning foreshadows the ending in two ways:

  • The ending is a bigger version of the beginning
  • The ending is the opposite of the beginning

In many action movies, the beginning starts with a battle of some sort. Then the ending concludes with an even bigger battle that’s somehow related to the beginning. In “Star Wars,” the beginning is about Darth Vader trying to catch Princess Leia’s starship. In the end, Darth Vader is trying to blow up the rebel base that Princess Leia is on.

In “Rocky,” the beginning shows Rocky fighting a boxing match in a dingy gym. In the end, Rocky is fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world.

In “Finding Nemo,” the beginning shows Marlin trying to save his wife’s eggs from a predator. In the end, Marlin is trying to save his son from fishermen (a bigger predator).

In these movies, the beginning shows a small battle and the ending shows a much bigger version of a similar battle. Instead of simply foreshadowing the ending, sometimes the beginning and the end are opposites.

In “Harold and Maude,” the beginning shows Harold faking a suicide to show he prefers death over life. In the end, Harold fakes a suicide to show he prefers life over death.

In “Alien,” the beginning shows astronauts waking up from hibernation. In the end, the lone surviving astronaut is putting herself back in hibernation.

In “The Hunger Games,” the beginning shows Katniss leaving home. In the end, Katniss returns home after surviving her ordeal.

Once you know your beginning, you automatically know your ending. Once you know your ending, you automatically know your beginning. Try coming up with different beginnings and endings to see which works best for your story. Just remember that the beginning and ending are always related. If they aren’t related, your ending will feel unbalanced and incomplete from the beginning, and that will create an unsatisfying story.

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