Starting from the end by Susan Sanderson

This is the second time I have had to publish a post on a day nominated for leaving the EU! How will that end?

Instead of dwelling on politics or Hallowe’en I have decided to share a story I wrote for homework at the local Asociation of Christian Writers (ACW) group I attend. I had been revising a few stories with a view to entering the ACW children’s story competition, when I tackled the topic, “The last minute”. I had an idea which involved wordplay. It was not fully formed, but I knew that I was aiming towards a punch-line. I wrote it for a young readership. Belonging to a writing group encourages me to write things I'd never have thought of otherwise.

Humour is one genre where it is sometimes necessary to start with the end and write towards it. I did that once before with a WordPress writing prompt.

Do you ever start with the ending and construct the plot towards it?

The Clerk to the Shoemakers’ Guild

This is a story which mixes facts and fiction. Have you been warned not to believe everything you read? When you have read this story perhaps you will be able to decide what is true and what is made up.

In the Middle Ages workers liked to meet with others in the same trade. They joined guilds. For every trade there was a guild. Large towns had a building where the various guilds could hold their meetings. It was the guildhall.

When there was a meeting people would speak in turn. Someone was needed to write down what had been discussed and decided. This was the clerk. Not everyone could read and write. The clerk was entrusted with the job of making a true record. Because of the minute detail in the records, they became known as minutes. The clerk wrote them at one meeting and read them out at the next meeting to remind everyone what had been said.

Equipment for working on large and small shoes
One day the Shoemakers’ Guild met to discuss the way that people’s feet had been changing in size from one generation to the next. The clerk was taking the minutes. He wrote with a quill pen made by cutting the stiff end of a feather to a particular shape using a penknife. He dipped the pen in ink to write on parchment, which was made from specially treated animal skins.

The clerk took the minutes, which were mainly about feet, shoes and lasts: the shapes used to mould shoes around. Afterwards he went to the workshop of one of the shoemakers. The sign outside the shop was a large boot. Just as he arrived at the shop a sudden gust of wind caught the boot and blew it down. Fortunately it fell in front of him. No-one was injured.

The clerk was slightly shocked by his narrow escape. He realised that if it had landed on his head, he might have written his last minutes about lasts and lived the last minute of his life.

If you'd like to read more about starting from the end, please click through to my post, Backwards.

Susan always wanted to be a writer.  In 2012 she revived her interest in writing with a project to collect the kinds of sayings, which were much used in her childhood.
Blogging was intended as a way of improving writing skills, but has become an interest in its own right.  Susan experiments with factual writing, fiction, humour and poetry.  She does not yet have a book to her name. Her interests include words, languages, music, knitting and crochet.  She has experience of the world of work, being a stay-at-home mum and an empty-nester.   She is active in her local community and Church, where she sings alto in the choir. She and her husband live in the north of England

Follow her on Twitter @suesconsideredt


  1. Do you know, I have never made that connection between 'minute' as in small and 'minutes' as in notes of a meeting. Of course!!

  2. I don't think many people have, Fran. I showed this piece to a few friends and they reacted part way into it as if they had learned something. Thanks for commenting.

  3. First of all, I'm hoping that Brexit will be over by Jan 31st, or at least not the threatened leaving date, then again at least it gives you a first line to begin your post with ;)

    I will have to try writing a piece beginning with the end. Thanks for the idea, and opening my eyes to what a 'last' is! All the best, Martin

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Martin. I'll have to find a different opening topic next time!


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