Endings – the First Draft

Writing the ending of a story can be tough. Knowing how the story is going to end is just as tough. There is no clear-cut way to figure how your story is going to end. Maybe you have it all planned out from the start. Maybe you didn’t figure out the ending until halfway through the story. Or maybe, you don’t have any idea how it’s going to end. Sure, there might be ideas floating around in your head but nothing is concrete and that’s okay.

Personally, I don’t usually figure out the ending until I get to the point where I can’t write anymore. Granted, this doesn’t happen to me often. Most often than not, I have some idea of how the novel is going to end.

Now, the good thing about writing the first draft is that nothing has to be perfect. The most important part is that it’s the first draft. This means that there’s going to be many more drafts of the same story. While the concept will stay the same and in some cases it won’t, everything else will change.

For the purpose of this post, I’ll stick with figuring out the ending for the first draft of the story. It’s not a novel just yet because the purpose of the first draft is to simply put the idea down on paper. That way, the idea has finally gotten out of your system and you can focus on writing the actual novel. I would also like to add that this isn’t about writing a satisfied ending.

When writing the ending of the story, what I do is make a list of all the potential ways to resolve the issue/problem/goal that has been the main focus of the story. Making a flow chart of the events leading up to the turning point/climax can be very helpful.

While you might not ever use one or any of those resolutions to the conflict, at least you started thinking about it. The process is to help your brain to think productively and creatively.

Once that list has been formed, try to figure out how to get from point A to point B. What would need to happen for that outcome to occur? It’s good to keep in mind that nothing is concrete. As much as you want the story/ending to be perfect, it won’t be. It’s not meant to be. At least not yet. Start with small steps and then take the bigger steps. Write those multiple endings/solutions and pick one that works . . . for the moment. There’s nothing stopping you from changing it after the first draft.

Even as a last resort, skipping the end is an option too. There is only one story that I skipped the ending. I didn’t necessarily write it out. However, I knew how I wanted the story to end. While this is nitpicking, at least, for me, I knew how it was going to end. It’s what worked for me.

At the end of the day, find what works for you. Every writer is different.

 

Advertisements

Scribophile

I recently joined a website called Scribophile. It’s basically a website for writers where they can post their work and have critiqued by other writers. The website utilizes a system through karma points. These points are awarded when you critique other people’s work. Through critiques, you rack up the points to post your own stories. You need 5 karma points to do this. So far, I haven’t managed to get 5 karma points yet but I’m getting there.

The stories are posted by chapters which the minimum is 3k words give or take so, I tend to read the chapter in one sitting. The website has this really cool mechanic where you can critique a work using their in-line critique option. It basically allows you to add comments and small edits throughout their work just like you can if you were editing with a pen.

There are also forums where you can discuss different topics with other writers and the Academy that provides free resources. Of course, the website also features a premium membership which cost money. However, signing up for the website is free.

While using this website, the one thing that I’ve found valuable is writing a critique. Thanks to college, I’ve had a lot of experience critiquing other’s works and so, I know how to write a critique. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m a little rusty at it, but when I wrote the critiques, my mind shifted.

Sure, I had edited my own work but that’s nowhere near what your brain goes through when critiquing someone else’s work. It is during critiquing, that I find, that I actually – kind of – know what I’m doing. It’s a good feeling when I realize that I know what I’m talking about. While I might know everything and critiques are only, in a way, personal opinions, feedback on any work is important. You need a fresh pair of eyes.

The story gets so wrapped up in your head that you can’t really see the big picture anymore. I’ve had a lot of experience with this and, just taking a break from inside my head to read/critique someone else’s work, gave me a huge energy charge. In one instance, I realized that a writer had the same problem as me. The setting wasn’t all there and I was able to point that out which made me more aware of what my story was lacking too.

So far, Scribophile has proved, at least to me, to be a very helpful resource. While I might not be on it at all hours of the day, the time I do spend on the website has been very valuable to me. All that’s left for me to do is to get 5 karma points and post my first chapter up for critiques.

Self-Publishing 101

I like to thank Sara Rothman for allowing me to upload her presentation over self-publishing. I attended her panel at Anime Matsuri 2017 and found her presentation very informative and decided to share that information with everyone. Sarah Rothman has written An Otaku Abroad: The Affordable Japanese experience for Anime and Manga fans. For more information, you can visit her website here. She has a book, Suicidal Samurai, coming out in May that, if anyone is interested in, can pre-order here.

In this post, I’ll be going over some of the main points discussed in the presentation. I will also upload the entire document on my blog. You can find it here.

So, to begin with:

Self-publishing is basically where an author publishes their own book, independently, without the involvement of a third-party publisher and at their own expense. The author has a lot of control but have to do all the work themselves like marketing, PR, format, price etc. There’s also outsourcing where the author can have someone else do, for example, the marketing part of the process.

There are advantages and disadvantages to self-publishing.

Advantages:

  • Easy to do
  • Control
  • Outsourcing
  • No Gatekeepers

Disadvantages:

  • Personal costs
  • Negative stigma
  • Lots of competition
  • Dealing with bookstores

There are more advantages and disadvantages and those can be found on the presentation.

Next,

Where to start?

It’s helpful to know why you’re writing. Money? Status? Bragging rights? For fun? I think, in essence, each motivation will help with the process and how much time and effort you’re willing to put into a story.

It’s also important to write A LOT. You can publish a book if you haven’t finished it. You may have heard it plenty of times but write every day. Even if what you wrote today can’t be used at all, at least you’re staying in the habit and practice. I honestly believe that practice makes perfect.

  Editing

It’s nice to read through a story multiple times. Read it once for grammar, another for story, etc. If you try to find all the problems at once, I feel that will get complicated so focus on one thing at a time. It’s also helpful to read it out loud or use audio reading software. Another tip, have another set of eyes. I find it helpful when I have someone else read my story because they might catch something I didn’t. And remember, it’s your book so you make the decision on what to delete or keep.

(A few)  Self-Publishing Websites:

  • Amazon.com
  • Lulu.com
  • Ingram Spark
  • Smashwords (ebook only)

A bit more information:

Choose your cover design carefully. People to judge books by their covers.

The pricing for ebooks and printed books will vary. There’s also distribution costs to take into account.

The business of self0publishing is always changing.

Niche books tend to well.

Marketing is touch and requires effort. Social media and freebies help.

Build your email list.

Always keep writing. The more books you have out there, the higher the chance there is of one book hitting it big. Also, the more books you have publish, the more money you can have coming in.

Lastly,

Slow and steady. Self-publishing, and writing in general isn’t something to get rich off straight away. It takes time and effort. Don’t be discouraged. If something isn’t working then change it until it does.

Thanks for reading. Like I mentioned before, this is just a basic summary of the presentation. You can have the full document here.

Map Making

For the past week or so I have been drawing some maps for my fantasy stories. These include: Crimson Queen and Blue Moon. Blue Moon is more of a story that I have been working on the lore and the background story of how the world came to be once the story starts. I haven’t really started writing the novel yet because there’s so much and I need to make an outline for it once I figured everything out.

I will say that I have written a movie script for this idea. Actually, it all startes out as a movie idea and, as time went on, I began to realize that it would be good as a book series. 

So, overall, I’m not saying that I have never drawn a map of lands/worlds before. I’m just saying that it has been a while and they’ve never been so detailed before. How did I mange to do this?

For starters, all I used was a piece of paper and a pencil. Nothing fancy. I’m not an artist, I can’t draw but I do know the name of the town my story takes place in and a few more details. For example, there’s a river near town and a cave. I started off small. Well, it also helped that I had a world generator but more on that later.

Creating a map for Crimson Queen had me going back to the planning section. I needed to create a layout of the town but that wasn’t too difficult. I focused on the main points in town like the church, the Major’s mansion, and enforcement office. From them, I added all the other pieces. The buildings weren’t perfect and I didn’t create any floor plans but I knew where everything was.

After the layout, I zoomed out and focused on the surrounding areas. I added trees, a river, farm land, the cave, and even neighboring towns. Thanks to the map generated by the world generator, I was able to use set my towns on the map and be done. 

At least now, not only do I have notes on the distance betweens towns and those details, but I also have a visual aid. Sure, it might not be perfect but no one but me is going to see it. Plus, making a map makes the world come alive a bit more. 

Beta Reading and a Thesaurus 

I didn’t spend a lot of time writing today. In fact, I didn’t do much writing. What I did end up doing was beta reading through serveral pages of acquaintances’ stories. This was mostly due to the fact that I was avoiding my computer because I used it a lot during November and I, sort of, neglected my reading responsibilities. Either way, I got through a lot of pages today.

I could have read through more but these certain pages needed many comments and suggestions on setting, sentence structure, and missing words. It’s not like I mind the extra work. I’ve told them to let me know if they don’t want me to stop picking out bad grammar. So far, they haven’t said to stop. This also helps me in a way because reading other people’s work not only gives you an opportunity to come in contact with a different writing style, you can avoid some mistakes that you may see in someone’s work and vice versa. I believe that one can always learn something from reading other’s works. 

There was one story that I read today that appeared to be vomitted on by a thesaurus. This is possibly the harshest thing that I have said. I mean it in the nicestest of ways too. It wasn’t as bad as I make it sound but there were a few words that didn’t belong there. I couldn’t even figure out what the original word was meant to be. This isn’t a warning about uaing a thesaurus but more like something to keep mind. 

Usually, I used a thesaurus so that my writing and certain words become repetitive. For example:

It’s not like this person had every word changed. It just so happened to be in one paragraphed and I had trouble figuring out what they were  to describe. You can say that this was my lesson for today.