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.

 

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Making your Reader Care

“Why should I care about the main character?”

This is a comment I received a few weeks ago on one of my stories. It was for Clan of Ash to be precise. For a while, and even now, the comment still lingers in the back of my head. I’ve read plenty of articles and blogs, over the years, on tips/advice/questions on how to make your readers care. A few of these were:

-Don’t make your character perfect. He/she needs a flaw.

-Make them relatable.

-What does your character want?

-What are the obstacles?

-Is he/she an underdog?

Even then, I never thought that I would be asked that question (why should I care?) It took me by surprised and left me reeling. I’d thought it was clear. But if I really think about it, maybe, I wasn’t as clear as I thought. It was clear to me but not the reader. I set up my main character with an impossible task and he grits his teeth and does because otherwise, they’ll kill him.

One of the most important things I came to realize is, it’s a process. Sure, hooking your readers and making a likable/relatable character at eh beginning is important. However, you have to keep “working” on your character throughout the story. Make your readers worry about them. Make them root for them.

There’s no ‘one way’ to do this. I remember some articles talked about having tension and conflict, twist and turns, in your story helps develop your character. It does and that way, readers see your characters struggle against the odds/ obstacles in order to reach their goal.

The key word is struggle. Nothing in life is ever easy or simple. Characters in stories shouldn’t have it easy. Otherwise, what’s the point of having the story? There would be no story. In essence, that’s what I need to keep in mind. I need to present the problem to the readers and have them “watch” the character try to resolve this problem.

As mentioned above, there’s no clear way to do this. There’s no ‘how-to’ or step-by-step guide. Sometimes, you wing it and try to have it all made sense. Luckily, there are beta readers out there that can point all the stuff you missed.

 

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.

Starting the New Year

2018 has started out to be very productive. I have finished my first book of the year called Vampire Hunter D, Vol. 1 by Hideyuki Kikuchi. Now, on to Vol. 2 which I have to find somewhere in my closet. It’s a series that I’ve been meaning on reading for a while now and I hadn’t been able to find any of the paperbacks for until only recently.

Each day has been filled with productivity and I won’t think about how my motivation might diminish in the future. Instead, I’ll focus on the now and worry about all that later. There are a few changes I wanted to implement in my writing routine. I don’t it’s anything drastic so to speak. This week, I’ll start off with including a scene I wrote for the prompt: “Do you remember the first time we met?” he asked.

“Do you remember the first time we met?” he asked.

“No,” she replied icily.

His face contorted in pain. “Casey,” he began.

Casey turned her body away from him. She focused on the breeze pulling at her braid and on the darkening clouds overhead. A few families were speckled throughout the park. The sings squeaked with every push and the children’s laughter reached Casey’s ears.

Of course, she remembered when they first met. It had been a day much like today. The only difference was that it was raining. She was practicing for a marathon and he was riding his bike without his glasses. Their meeting started with a trip to the emergency center. Casey took a deep breath distancing herself from those memories.

“What do you want?” she asked bluntly. “After all this time you call me and want to speak. What do you want?”

She twisted around, resting her back against the uncomfortable bench. Her arms were crossed. Jonathon reached toward her but stopped.

“Why do you think I want something?”

Casey clenched her jaw. Her gaze was focused on the dancing blades of grass in front of her. “Because you’re the type of person who uses people and discards them like trash.”

“You don’t know me.” Jonathon’s voice was low.

Casey smirked. “I date you for almost two years,” she said softly. “Trust me. I know you.”

“Why are you making this difficult?” Jonathan suddenly cried. “I just wanted to talk.”

His words reawakened a long-buried anger. Casey swirled around. “Oh, so now you want to talk,” she spat. She stood. “You didn’t want to speak when it actually mattered. When a simple explanation sufficed. You’re unbelievable.”

Jonathan jumped up. “What was I supposed to do? You didn’t want to tell me –”

“It was none of your business,” she interjected.

“You were my girlfriend!”

“Because that actually mattered back then,” Casey retorted. Her hands clenched. “I was only your girlfriend when it was convenient for you.”

“What was I supposed to think when you disappear for days with another guy? There were pictures Casey. Was I supposed to ignore that?”

Casey’s chin trembled. “You were supposed to trust me.”

That’s what I have so far. I might expand this a little more once I figure out enough details. Mostly, I was making things up as I went. In my humble opinion, I don’t think it’s a bad start.