The State of Affairs for “Beginning, Middle, and Endings” in Student Writing

The sad truth is students aren’t interested in beginning, middle, and ending. No. I’m not sure that they ever were… but in this modern age… it’s passé. It’s boring. It doesn’t pique their interest… and they don’t see what it is so important about it. “What’s so important about… blah… blah… blah…. beginnings, middles… introductions… bodies… I don’t get it…”

I’ll tell you what students are interested in… playing with time.

Beginning, Middle and Ending? Okay… But In What Order?

Kids love the idea of flashbacks, flash-forwards, foreshadowing and creating suspense or curiosity by holding back information. All that’s interesting to them…

However, it’s pretty hard to teach them those concepts, and it’s pretty hard for students to learn them… that is, unless they have a solid understanding of beginning, middle, and ending.

Beginning, Middle and Ending… the Basics

On a basic level we want students to be thinking about and planning for their beginning, middle and ending in their writing.

Before beginning, prepare carefully.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Then we want students to continue to think about these concepts and self-monitor as they write. Even more important though is we want them to “feel the rhythm” of beginning, middle, ending… beginning, middle, ending… both within their paragraphs and within their entire essay, report or story.


As an adult… you have likely learned about the need for…“closure.” Haven’t you ever felt the need for a little “closure?” Was it your imagination… or did you really “need closure?” Well, it turns out there is actually a scientific reason that people simply need closure.

The Scientific Need for Beginning, Middle, and Endings

This scientific reason is called the “Zeigarnik Effect.” The Zeigarnik Effect describes how people remember unfinished or interrupted tasks better than completed ones.

Here is one example of the “Zeigarnik Effect” at work. I once began reading a book, but I didn’t really like it. I got busy and never finished the last 30 pages. Ten years later I was still aware that I had not finished that book. I finally went to the library and checked it out so I could finish it. This was for a book I did not really like! It was easier to simply finish the book instead of thinking about it for another 10 years!

What the “Zeigarnik Effect” Means for Student Writers

Do your students jump around in their writing? Do they write whatever pops into their head? Do they not know how to start or end their writing? All this and much, much more is solved with just a little understanding of the “Zeigarnik Effect.”

The “Zeigarnik Effect” teaches students “Don’t start an idea if you are not going to finish it. Your reader does not want to be thinking about an idea that you did not finish 10 years later!”

The “Zeigarnik Effect” also teaches students “Get rid of ideas that are started and go nowhere. This is called editing.”

The “Zeigarnik Effect” is a Fun Tool that Gives Students a…

First off, the “Zeigarnik Effect” is a fun concept. For students it’s right up there with flashbacks and foreshadowing.

Second, it’s a tool. Students learn to appreciate “beginning, middle, and ending” and they understand how they can use it to control their writing… and eventually control their reader’s emotional involvement.

Third, once “beginning, middle, and endings” are mastered, the “Zeigarnik Effect” leads to very effective and controlled advanced writing techniques. Students easily learn how to create suspense, curiosity, and interest in their writing… and it’s fun!

No Playing With Time… Until You Master Beginning, Middle, Ending… Beginning, Middle…

We teach students that paragraphs and stories have a beginning, middle, and ending. We teach students that essays and reports have an introduction, body, and conclusion. Students learn that good writing almost always has a very clear beginning, middle, and ending.

This must be mastered.

If you want your students to develop a natural rhythm and flow to their writing be sure to get your free guide to writing at the homepage and while you’re at it, check out the “Pattern Based Writing: Quick and Easy Essay” writing program! You won’t know what you’re missing till you see it!

Every end is a new beginning.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end but not necessarily in that order.
Jean-Luc Godard (French Filmmaker)

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