Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

‘A novel will end up asserting or exemplifying whatever it damn well pleases’

Should writers know their ending from the beginning?

There are thankfully so very few shoulds in novel writing. And this just doesn’t feel like one of them.  A novel will end up asserting or exemplifying whatever it damn well pleases, but the act of writing one will always have an evolutionary element for the unfortunate writer.  Pre-planning too much, and knowing your ending right from the start would seem to effortlessly fall into this category, just may not be in the spirit of the thing.

Let’s put it this way: do you want to like your ending? That will depend on two things: your ending and you. I suppose you could prospectively choose to know your ending, but can you know who you will be? Not who you are today, who you’ll be following years of novel-writing, the most deleterious mental activity ever devised by humanity. Just saying that, if you end up indistinguishably the same you may not be doing it right.