Lost Endings

No deep thoughts this week. I’m working hard on the ending of my sci-fi western, so I’ll offer this recent conversation with Twitter buddy George McNeese:

Beginnings-and-Endings

(click to enlarge)

George is one of my favorite Twitter users because he always has thoughtful things to say, often about his own writing journey. That usually leads me to think more deeply about my journey, too, even when I’m in a tough place, as I am right now, re-crafting the ending of my current story. Especially when I’m in a tough place.

I write sequentially, which I enjoy doing because the story feels like it has more natural rises and dips that way. It also pre-empts issues like my current one, where the ending I wrote a year ago – the initial impetus for the story entire – doesn’t fit with the story that’s been built to come before it. It’s not the worst place to be, of course: the characters have grown a lot from that initial writing, too far into themselves to make that ending work. I think that’s a good thing. But it also means creating an almost entirely new ending moment that has the same emotional resonance as the one I first wrote 400 days or so ago.

A story needs to be strong on all counts: beginning, middle, and end. Finding that right (write?) balance for us is the tricky bit. What’s your favorite part of the story to write?

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12 thoughts on “Lost Endings

  1. I like to start writing in the middle of the story. I get a feel of the tone of my stories and the voice my characters develop. By the time I finish writing the middle and end, I have a good idea on how to establish my stories at its start.

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    • I envy people who can write out of sequence. When I try to write just parts, my brain gets impatient with the interim bits, and those parts never get pulled together into something cohesive. Writers who can effortlessly move from scene 14 to scene 6 to scene 45 and turn it into a cohesive story deserve kudos. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Hi Mayumi, I’ve never tried starting anywhere else but the beginning, so I don’t know any other way. Since I bought Scrivener at the end of nano a few years ago, I can now move about once I’m into the story with ease. I found that to be particularly interesting and an entirely new way of writing for me.

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    • Hi, Neeks!

      I have Scrivener, too, and I know other writers swear by it. I must be too old a dog, though, because I can’t switch over. I’ve tried a few times, and it is neat to play in, especially the Compile function, but I like physical details around me: cards, sketches, books of notes. I’m nearly as fast finding what I want to know in my sketchbooks as I am doing a search in a computer.

      You make a good point about having freedom to jump around once we’re in the thick of the story. When the voices are heard and the faces seen, it creates a lot more open paths.

      Thanks for stopping in!

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  3. I don’t do much fiction writing, none at the moment! But when I do it tends to be just the first line that comes to me, even before the actual idea for the story, and then the story grows from there sequentially. Often I have no idea how it’s going to end while I’m in the middle and then you can end up writing yourself into a corner can’t you – that’s what Stephen King appears to do with some rather suspect ends to otherwise gripping stories!

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    • Ooh, that first line hook – I love when a story grabs me that way. πŸ™‚
      I haven’t read much King in recent years, but I know what you’re talking about. I can almost tell when a writer hasn’t thought an ending through. It’s like watching a movie where the end of the last reel gets cut off. I’m left sitting there going, “Whuh?” Still, it’s good to know nobody’s perfect, even the big leaguers! πŸ™‚

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  4. Each of my stories has been written in different ways. My first was all over the park as ideas came to meβ€”having four “versions” of the main character probably had something to do with that…. The second was also somewhat organic, but after a few false starts, I formed a general outline in my mind an went from there. Of course, that one, like the first, will see some major changes. The third is coming along more sequentially, and I’m spending more time plotting and thinking about the story before setting down too many words. Maybe this one won’t need as much revision when the first draft is done? So I’m hoping!

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    • That’s cool, that you can write in different ways and still pull a story together, JM. When I try to write out-of-order, I end up with a bunch of flailing scenes that never achieve cohesion. Maybe because I’ve already written all the “fun” bits and don’t care about the rest! (I should work on that.) I think that’s my main fear when it comes to writing out of sequence: that I’ll only write the sharp scenes already in focus in my head, and forget about the rest.

      I wonder if your smoother progress with this latest story has as much to do with your own confidence in the process as it does with the way you’re executing? Glad to know it’s working, though! πŸ™‚

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  5. Ack, WP ate my comment! Trying again: I always think I’m starting at the beginning but then as I re-draft, that beginning changes. Sometimes, it’s dumped entirely and sometimes it is moved to another part of the story, and it is changed in some way.

    I think, for me, the beginning is really only symbolic. It’s the beginning of my telling of the story, not necessarily the beginning of the actual story.

    I don’t really have a favorite part. I like it all. πŸ™‚

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    • Oo, I hate when WP does that! For me, it’s usually my own palm swiping against the contact pad, and I can’t believe my own clumsiness.

      One lesson I try to impress on our younger writers is that they’re going to want to revise later anyway, so the best thing to do is just *write* and not get hung up on the perfect beginning. It also goes back to that piece of advice about finishing every story. Once it’s finished, I know I can usually see where changes need to occur more clearly, at least from a plot perspective.

      You’re a writer with the ability to jump around in a story and still keep it moving and flowing, yes? I so wish I could do that. But, we all follow our own path.

      I like writing all the parts, too. πŸ˜€

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      • Yes, I can jump around to various parts of the story across drafts. The reason for that, though, is because I’m following storylines and character arcs, and making sure that everything works and is consistent. I also find great value in working backwards, too. πŸ™‚ Basically, I’m all over the place.

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