Beginnings now mean the first paragraph, maybe the first page, but not the first chapter. Beginnings must engage readers in the first few lines. Does your first paragraph encapsulate your entire story or novel? Is it immediately engaging? Does the reader want to know more about your story and its characters? Is the promise made (and kept) that the piece is worth the reader's time and emotional investment?
Is the end of your story satisfying, possibly hoped for, but not anticipated, without being obvious? Do you tie up all loose ends, especially those that would leave readers feeling cheated if they're not addressed? Are your readers left wanting more, but not in a way that leaves them sensing that something's missing? Handled well, a good ending can open the door to more stories.
Tips: Once you've finished editing your story and are ready to send it for publication, put the piece aside for at least a week. Then come back and reread the beginning — and the ending. Don't be afraid to revise both before sending. For the premiere blog on beginnings, by Peter Selgin, visit Your First Page. For general information on the topic, see "Five Fiction Mistakes That Spell Rejection." For more on endings, see "Endings."
For the full editor's checklist, see the Online Editing Workshop.