Monday, March 4, 2013

Writing 101: Hooked on an Ending

Sometimes the end is the first part of a story that reveals itself. When you get stuck thinking about it, you may never have the chance to write it. 

A Love Story

Once, just once, I fell in love with a story. I was so besotted, I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and setting even after the book was done. I imagined new plots, new events, new characters and brand-new jokes. 

I started the sequel almost as soon as I finished the book I so loved. I knew exactly how it would start, the time period I wanted to cover...and I knew just how it would end. With tears, and a poignant moment next to a tree. It's really much better than it sounds.

I was in love again. So I started my sequel, and blazed through the first few chapters like this was the story I'd been born to tell. I was so excited I couldn't type fast enough.

At first. Then I got through all the setup chapters...and realized I was very far from reaching my oh-so-dramatic ending.

I'd forgotten all about the middle part of the book. I knew how to write the ending...I didn't know how to get to the ending.

Beginning at the Beginning

The trouble with falling in love with an ending is clear: it wont ever love you back. I never did finish writing that book, and there's a whole long story about me and writer's block that happens before I resolved that particular issue. There were lots of reasons I couldn't finish that story, but since then I have managed to finish several others. 

Don't think too far ahead. I advocate writing an outline, and figuring out every single step it takes to get all the way to the end. But after that, begin at the beginning of the story...and write it. Don't think about the next chapter, or the final scene. Just focus on the one you're writing in that moment. The end of the story may evolve as you write it, so you have to be flexible. Treat every scene like it might be the last you write; as far as you know, it is. If you're thinking too far ahead, you're not giving the right amount of attention to the rest of the story.

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1 comment:

  1. I disagree slightly. I need to know the ending - in fact I've usually got the last line or paragraph written down and every works towards it. I think I would get too side-tracked if I tried to write in a linear way.