Getting To The End Never Gets Easier

November 12, 2008 at 4:51 pm 14 comments

I find it amazing that I was able toWoman holding typewriter.finish my first novel. It was my first attempt at writing which also makes it rare. I think what got me to the end was ignorance. I knew very little about writing. When I learned a lot, getting to the end got harder. When I got down the basics (POV, conflict or more accurate the fact you were supposed to have some, characterization and the like), it became a feat to write THE END. When I discovered publishing, well I didn’t finish anything for months.

So, I’ve been trying to figure out what gets me to the end. I’m one of the few writers who loves beginnings. Yes, mine are fraught with issues, but I love getting to know new people. I love that intial journey. Who they are, what they can be, and what they need to learn.

Different story when it’s time to actually get on that road. Some of that old enthusiasm disappears into the ether. That’s when it gets really hard. I start to wonder if this dreck is worth spending however long it’s going to take to finish it. That’s when the crows of doubt land on my shoulder and start pointing out, “Exposition” “Backstory” “Um, you’re supposed to have conflict, ya know” “You need to do hours, upon hours of research before you write another word” which is always followed by “Wikipedia!” I can conquer this by turning my music up louder.

Sometime after this point things get confusing. I don’t know what happens inside my brain that gets me from this point to THE END. I don’t even have working theories.

Tell me yours or are you just as confused about what gets you to THE END of a story.

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. edie17  |  November 12, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Mel, I shouldn’t be answering, because I’m writing about a chapter a week now. But I usually know what will happen at the end and a few plot points. I write toward the plot points and as I do, I usually get surprise conflicts. I love surprises!

    Good luck!

  • 2. coffeegirl88  |  November 12, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I’m just about as confused as you are. Remember, I am the Queen of Unfinished Projects. I think I have one screenplay that I actually took from “fade in” to “fade out.”

    But, I do know what’s helping me right now. I have my story plotted simply by crisis points. So my entire story outline consists of maybe 4 index cards. Yeah, I think somewhere Sam’s is twitching. I have come to learn over the last couple frustrating years of trying to finish a novel that I cannot over plot my work or I get stuck. I need to be able to wander down the path my characters show me while writing. I have this wonderful exchange between my hero and the heroine’s father that I hadn’t planned but discovered last night while doing a word sprint with Kim on Twitter. If I worry too much about conflict or motivation or finding some deep hidden meaning in everything before I writing, I’ll never write. So, I’m just writing along, telling the story my characters want to tell and I’ll fix the whole thing later.

  • 3. Slave Driver  |  November 12, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I wrote my novel out of sequence. I always knew what was going to happen, I just saved the more difficult scenes for last, such as the big “action” scene. When it came time to write it I drew a map, marked all the POV’s and what took place at each point. In other words, I choreographed it. So for me writing the end was easy, because it had already been done. Then it took me 3 months to re-write chapter 1 because, like you, I was clueless in the beginning about writing, publishing, that show/hide button on the top of the word program, all of it.

    “So, I’m just writing along, telling the story my characters want to tell and I’ll fix the whole thing later.” Because that’s what re-writes and editing are for.

    Party on, Garth.

  • 4. pamwritesromance  |  November 13, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Wow! Everybody’s got great ways of writing. It’s really cool to read. I write endings easier than beginnings, though. On one hand, it helps me to be able to write toward it, on the other, that beginning can be a bi$ch!!!

  • 5. Raine  |  November 13, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Just plain old stubborness.
    I hate leaving things unfinished (though I do).
    I hate feeling defeated (though I often am).
    And I also (and sorry if this sounds weird) hate the idea of leaving my characters’ lives incomplete. Because if I’ve done a good job at the beginning, they ARE alive to me, and I don’t feel quite right about leaving them hanging like that.

  • 6. Jess  |  November 13, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    My notecard process is the only thing – ONLY – thing that gets me to The End. Middles kill me. Too much stuff needs to happen to keep my head straight. But if before I write anything, I notecard things that sound cool that could go in the middle, and then organize them into some coherent order, my brain can process that, then I type that up as a scene list. Then when I’m writing, I never have to actually do any thinking – just look at the scene list, go, oh that scene’s next, and keep typing. No consciousness. Because if I stop to think about it, I panic and go “This sucks!” So I don’t thinka bout it. I just write, and thanks to my scene-list, I know what to write, and that saves me. I

    It’s like me on the subway. I have claustrophobia, so the idea of being on a subway is terrifying to me. But if I just stand next to the door, even if I’m peering out at the tunnel walls, I feel like I have an out. if I just don’t look at the people packed like cattle behind me, they aren’t really there. I’m not cramped in a small tube under the earth. There is a door that I can theoretically go through right in front of me! That’s like my scene list getting me to The End.

  • 7. Melissa Blue  |  November 13, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    I write toward the plot points and as I do, I usually get surprise conflicts. I love surprises!

    Even with the large amount of plotting I’m doing ahead of time, there is a lot that pops up while I’m writing. I also like surprises and where they take me in the story.

  • 8. Melissa Blue  |  November 13, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    So my entire story outline consists of maybe 4 index cards.

    Ahh, the good old days. I used to wing it entirely. Then I just wrote down the four turning points. And then the Block that wouldn’t End happened.

    If I worry too much about conflict or motivation or finding some deep hidden meaning in everything before I writing, I’ll never write.

    I am Dr. Blue, I have to think deep, painful thoughts. 😉 But, I do believe if you still have to follow your instinct when writing. Just because it’s written down on the holy grail of plot board doesn’t mean it still fits the story you’ve written.

    So, rock on.

  • 9. Melissa Blue  |  November 13, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Because that’s what re-writes and editing are for.

    Yes. I’ve learned the first draft is the magical time in the novel writing phase. It only has to make enough sense so I can write to the next scene. I know there are going to be really, really good parts out of that first draft. And then it’s going to be the horrible I-Can’t-Believe-I-Wrote-That-Dreck parts. The hard part is taking it out your novel and believing you can fix it.

  • 10. Melissa Blue  |  November 13, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    On one hand, it helps me to be able to write toward it, on the other, that beginning can be a bi$ch!!!

    Lol, I said I loved them, not that they were pretty. Beginnings are the writing dreck only a writer can love. You have to put on your steel-toed boots and kick them into submission.

    You do it because you care.

    Also, your process sounds like the Treat on the End of the Stick or Light at the End of the Tunnel.

  • 11. Melissa Blue  |  November 13, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Just plain old stubborness.

    I can attest to this being partially my reasoning for getting to an end. When I’ve gone so far into a novel I might as well finish it. I start to say no one has to read this EVER.

    And I also (and sorry if this sounds weird) hate the idea of leaving my characters’ lives incomplete.

    You are in the weird crowd now. Stop fighting it. 😉 And, I get that same sense. It feels like you’ve hit the pause button and never went back to push play.

  • 12. Melissa Blue  |  November 13, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Then when I’m writing, I never have to actually do any thinking – just look at the scene list, go, oh that scene’s next, and keep typing. No consciousness. Because if I stop to think about it, I panic and go “This sucks!”

    The pantser in me wants to scream, but the plotter is loving this idea. I do something similiar though. I write three or four scenes ahead. That way the story doesn’t stop flowing until the very last scene I need to write. It’s kind of like tricking myself that I actually have more words in me. See, I do, ’cause it says so on the plot board. (I think we’ve all accepted that writers are crazy.)

    It sounds like we all have our own rituals. Some more similiar than others. Now all we have to do is convince Cynthia to finish something other than a screenplay. 😉

  • 13. coffeegirl88  |  November 13, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Hey! Who said my screenplays were finished? I said I took one from “fade in” to “fade out” doesn’t mean it was finished. It means it had a beginning, a middle, and an end – with some missing scenes tossed in for good measure.

    Seriously, NaNo is helping loads this year with finishing a first draft. If I can prove to myself that I can do it once I will be able to do it again and again and again.

    I never thought I was much of a pantser but again, I’m learning alot about my technique.

  • 14. Katie Reus  |  November 14, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Ditto! When I first started writing, I flew through my first ms, but now that I’ve learned more about my craft, getting to the end is a much longer process.

    I usually fly through the first 50 pages of a manuscript, then I freak out and wonder how I’m going to finish another 200-300 pages. Somehow, it gets done though 🙂

    I’ve always got character sketches done before I start a new work, and I’ve usually got a basic outline listing the major internal/external conflicts issues between the H/h, but other than that, sometimes the plot heads where the characters want to go, regardless of what I want 🙂

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