A Prompt From: Carole Johnston

A Prompt From: Carole Johnston


A screenwriter friend of mine once gave me an invaluable writing tip that I find myself using for every story I write, be it short-form or long. If you have a great idea, but are struggling to know where to start or finish the story, try imagining potential beginnings and endings as pivotal scenes in a movie. Or a movie trailer.  

 The first and last chapters of a book are vitally important. The beginning is the hook; the end is the climax and message of your story. 

Before I started writing Mirrorland, I had the entire final scene so fixed in my mind’s eye that it kept me completely on track all the way through writing and editing. It gave me a finish line, something to always be writing towards, and it set the emotional tone of the story; reminded me always of what I was trying to say. 

In fact, whenever I became stuck, no matter where I was in the book, I applied the same exercise. Always seeing and directing story scenes in your mind, no matter how they evolve throughout the process, gives you distance and perspective, and allows you to view your own ideas more critically. It keeps your writing fresh, focussed, engaging, interesting. And most of all, it keeps it going.

- Carole Johnston


About the Author

Carole Johnstone’s award-winning short fiction has been reprinted in many annual ‘Best of ’ anthologies in the UK and US. She lives in Argyll & Bute, Scotland, with her husband. Mirrorland is her debut novel.