The first sentence that I write for this post greatly inhibits the direction in which this post can go. The same way that the direction from which I leave my home determines where my bike ride will take me. Every new word of every new sentence narrows my chances of writing a post on scientists reaching conclusion on materials found on Mars or on any other silly subject.

Writers and cyclists are fairly logical people. (Although, one can argue that there is not much logic to riding in a circle.) Therefore, unless you are writing a story in the style of William S. Burroughs, there is a logic that will determine where your story goes. When I sit down and write the sentence: “Paula’s first week at University went better than expected,” I am eliminating any possibility of Paula’s experience being worse than expected. When I leave the house and head northeast, I am making it difficult to travel southwest.

With every turn we do or do not take, we are steering our stories in a specific direction.

The first sentence determines where the rest of the story will be taking the readers. Like bike touring, it is helpful to know where the destination is. That way we do not miss a turn we should have taken or ride past the end point. Thus ensuring that we do not have to turn around.

Unfortunately, unlike bike riding, sometimes as writers, we have no idea where we are headed. We begin a story heading in one direction but soon find the scenery to be uninteresting or repetitive. We then have no other choice but to head in another direction, losing both time and energy.

This is part of the experience, part of the excitement. Technically, I can ride a bike to any place connected by land, and I can write about anything at all. However, there is still some terrain that I cannot traverse by bike and the same goes for writing. I have to get to the base of the mountain in order to climb it, and in order to get there I must make sure that I take the correct route. Every turn and move dictates the next.

By taking certain turns, we both limit ourselves and provide new possibilities for destinations. So the question is, when you sit down to write, are you going to explore until you find what you are looking for, or are you going to know what you want and find it right away? Both have their merits.

Every ending to a story I have written has been inevitable. It has been inevitable because I steered the story in that direction. If ever I wanted to change the ending, I would have to go back a rewrite much of the story. I am willing to do this (and have before) but it means a lot of back tracking, and that kind of work kills my calves.

Often it helps to be forced to rewrite a story. At least the second time around, you know the direction you don’t want to go. The beginning dictates the end.

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