Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The problem with endings...

Last week, Steph Sinkhorn over at Maybe Genius wrote about the trouble with endings and her blog really resonated with me. Between her wise words and the kick butt Star Wars picture, I was sold.

I have two books in varying states of completion. They were both NaNoWriMo novels, which means (in my world) that the minute I finished the scene where I hit 50K words, I stopped.

All stop. Do not pass Go.

Cue Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's before I took another look at my stories only to realize they both needed an ending.

"But, Trish," I hear you ask. "You're a plotter. You live by the outline, so what's the problem? Write the ending you have listed on the handy-dandy sheet at the front of your 3-ring binder and be done with it."

Yeah, about that. My outlined endings are terrible, but that's okay. Throughout the organic process of writing my stories, things changed. Some scenes were canned while others that were sub plots became major plot points. SO by time I got to the ending, the one I had charted out was really no longer applicable.

I've been blogging MIA for a while because I've been working on my book with major hopes of finishing a draft for printing via CreateSpace by the end of June. More on that later but until last week, I was still working on my 2010 book and I realized the ending just wasn't there. And what's worse, I knew it wasn't there because the three chapters leading up to the Point Where the Ending Should Begin were just stall tactics.

So, I busted out ye ole 2009 NaNo and am reading, editing, and clawing my way to the finish line. More on that later, too. (Apparently, I need to start getting my Proposed Blogs out of my head and into the queue!)

For all you plotters out there, do you keep to your original ending? Or you pantsers, do you work towards some end game, or do you really just pull a magic ending rabbit out of your hat? (Please tell me there's *some* forethought or else I'll cry...)


  1. FIRST!
    Michael and I argued and argued and ARGUED over our ending. I'm pretty sure the darn thing took more the same amount of time to sort as the entire rest of the novel. What we finally did was sit down and make two lists: what needed to happen *emotionally* for the story to have a satisfying conclusion, and what needed to happen *logistically* to wrap up the action. With our powers (ie, our lists) combined, we came up with an ending sequence of events that worked. Whew.

  2. i typically keep my original ending. I mean, for some noevels i have a better sketch of said ending before i get there, but for my last WIP my outline said something like "MC saves the day" and then by the time i got there, it just worked itself out.
    That's typically what happens with me and endings

  3. Um, I've changed my ending three times. Every time I think I've got it figured out and done something new occurs to me and I have to tweak it (btw, this always happens just after I've sent a requested ms to an agent). The only thing that will stop me from rewriting this story is if I get published and it gets set in print between the pages of a book. :)

  4. I'm a pantser and while I had a clear vision of the broadstrokes of the arc, the details often pulled the story in unexepected directions. As a result, while the end didn't change in the particulars (time, place, and characters), it was the hardest part to write, since the nuances had evolved and changed the dynamic of how the story itself played out.

  5. I am a plotter and I never start writing until I know what the ending is.

    Of course, by the time I get to it, quite a few things have changed. The ending can't quite be what I had planned.

    I was forced (and by forced, I mean that I found a better storyline and went along with it) to change my ending recently. Not all of it. The basic ending is still there. I added elements to it, raising the stakes and throwing unplanned complications in my Good Team's plan.

    Yes, it meant banging my head on a wall for two days, but once I had replanned it, I felt very happy with the new ending. I'm now writing it. :)

    I love SB's idea of lists. I had a similar list of what storyarcs were not yet concluded and what needed to happen, though they were not separated between logistics and emotions.

  6. @SB--congrats on first status! :) Claudie mentioned it and I agree, I like the idea of making those lists. I still can't help but wonder how much more difficult it would be if I had a co-author to work with though! Kudos to you and Michael for finding a system that works!

    @Sarah--"MC saves the day" is about as vague as mine have been. However, my endings haven't yet magically appeared. I'm madly jealous of you and your knack for endings. Hopefully that's something that comes with experience? Yes, maybe?

    @LG--somehow, it's comforting to know that I'll still be thinking about this even if I ever get to the querying stage. It makes the whole query process feel a bit more realistic to me.

    @Watcher--even as a plotter, the ending is the hardest part for me. It's been so hard for both books, that I've opted to start the editing/rewriting process before slapping on an ending. THAT's how much I avoid it!

    @Claudie--that's right, I think I remember you saying that you had to redo some parts to your story because you had other ideas that needed to get in there. Is this the draft you're planning on finishing while you're on hiatus?

  7. I DID go back and revise/rewrite before I wrote the ending and it was actually a helpful strategy. It made it easier to weave all the loose ends back into the story so at that point the ending kind of took care of itself.

  8. Yes, it's the draft I want to finish! I've started this point where all the tiny blocks start to fall into place. I find that writing endings, once you know what it'll be, is very fun.

    (I also rush through it and hate *revising* said ending, but that's another topic. XD)


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