We talked on Monday about the steps each of us undergoes in beginning a new novel. There are as many different variations on how to do this as there are authors. T.S. Eliot quotes, "What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."
Some authors do begin with the ending and write backward from there. This certainly wasn't the case for the screenplay for Casablanca. I was disturbed the first time I watched our DVD and discovered that the filmmakers didn't know how the story would end until it came down to a point in filming where a decision had to be made. Would Ilsa stay behind with Rick, or choose to do the right thing and honor her duty and her husband by leaving with Victor Lazslo? I have to admit that I wasn't so surprised at their flexibility with the moral dilemma as I was with the fact that they couldn't see that the personal sacrifice and growth in the characters of Ilsa and Rick WAS the story.
How important is it to know the ending of a story before putting it on paper? Most of us have at least a vague idea of how our stories will end and structure them toward that. There are many factors to consider when choosing an ending. What do you consider the most important? Has an ending ever gotten away from you despite your bestlaid plans and forced you to change course?