Thursday, August 21, 2008

Every Story Has An Ending, But How You Get There Is Crucial

Should you know exactly how your story ends before you start or leave it to chance? Different writers go about it in different ways. Find out what suits you best.There are four methods you can use to plan how your story will end:
1. Just do it.This is where you start writing from page one and hope it will all turn out right in the end. Fingers crossed.Some writers deplore this approach, others find it works for them.You've got an idea for a story and maybe the main characters are coming alive in your head. You've no idea how it's going to turn out, but you want to go for it anyway. And with luck and a dry wind you may well get there. So go for it. Time will tell whether you've got the creative tide running strongly enough to bring you safely into harbour or not.The danger here is that your story might get stuck on the sandbank of I-don't-know-what-to-do-next or totally shipwrecked on the rocks of This-is-a-load-of-rubbish. If the former, then there may be hope of rescue. Read your story and jot down the main events so far. Now put your thinking cap on and decide seriously how you want it to turn out. Then do 'what ifs' to find a path into clear water and on to landfall.
2. Bare bones.This is where you write down the beginning, middle and end of the story, but otherwise leave it to develop itself.Not a bad plan this one unless you're writing a mystery or detective novel and you need to plan things out more thoroughly than that.For short stories it should work well.
3. The whole caboodleThis is more applicable when writing a novel or a very long short story.Write a detailed synopsis, maybe broken down by chapter or section, so that you know exactly how it's going to work out in the end.Some authors use the 'cover-the-wall-with-A4s' method. Take a sheet of A4 for each chapter and write on it what is going to happen in that chapter. Then stick them on the wall in chapter order. This makes it easier to see at a glance what's going on and how everything links up. Use different coloured pens if you want to follow say a subplot through so that you don't forget anything.This has the advantage, providing you've got the wall space, of being able to change things quickly, add, delete or merge chapters as you go along. You could use Word for Windows and read it all on screen, but it's just not the same.
4. Suck it and see.Write the first chapter or section to get a sense of whether it will run to a satisfying conclusion. You may or may not know what that is to begin with.This method is good if you have a novel in mind and don't want to work out a detailed synopsis to start with.When that first chapter is finished and it excites you, gives you goose bumps or simply that yeesss! feeling then you may be onto a good thing and it's worth taxing the brain cells to get the whole framework sorted out.
ConclusionFrom personal experience this is what I think works:Methods 1 and 2 work well for the short story; 3 is best for the longer story or novel, and 4 works OK for either.
By: oldtimer


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