Saturday, December 12, 2009

Elusive Endings

I'm having some difficulty squeezing in time for my writing. And it's not all due to pre-holiday prep, report card season and all the other nuttiness that goes with family life.

I've been procrastinating because I'm just not sure which finish I want to put on the NaNo novel. I'm close to the end. Probably between 5k & 10k to go. But I can't get it written.

My dilemma is in how the book needs to finish. I just can't see the ending clearly. This is weird for me. Usually it's the ending scene I see first. It's where the story starts for me. When I'm creating units for school, I always start with the test or culminating task first as well. Some people think I plan backwards, but I always want to know where I'm headed before I start.

So... I'm thinking of going back to the start and doing a read through and a quick outline at the same time. Maybe I'll find the ending in there. I do have a few possibilities floating around, but none of them are telling me they're the "right" ending.

This method feels a little like cheating. Silly, but true. Maybe I should just plow through it and see what happens. My characters do have a tendency to go where they like anyway.

Or maybe I should continue to let it stew in the back of my brain and let the ending appear when it's good and ready.

Have you ever been stumped near the end of your ms? How did you get yourself through it?

42 comments:

  1. I've had the situation where I had a brilliant ending and was working towards it and then midway through drafting I've taken a detour. Then the ending I had in my head no longer made sense. I had to sit down and figure out what each character was actually trying to achieve and how I could work up to a climax from where I was and it took a lot of rewrites before I was happy with the ending. Thanks for sharing this.

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  2. Cassandra - That would be so hard! But... you have to go where the characters take you. Or, at least I do :)

    I hope, hope, hope I don't have to do a major rewrite. But it may shape up that way!

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Only hit the rewrite if there's no other way. If I'n struggling for an ending I look at what my protagonist's goals are and try to give them 60% of what they wanted. Enough to beat the bad guys, but not letting them off lightly either. It's actually really hard to try and give your protagonist everything they want and make it a believeable ending.

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  4. Andrew - 60% eh? I like it!

    I do have a penchant for Disney endings that I must continually squash :) Believability is definitely more important! I'll have to give that 60% some thought...

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  5. darnit, I had a long ol' comment and then it poofed away....

    Use a blank piece of printer paper and colored pens, write everything that comes to mind for an ending....dialogue, setting, or even just your own note taking on what you want to happen, what you don't want to happen, etc.. Good luck!! :0)

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  6. I only knew the situation I'd created for my characters and their personalities, when I began writing my WIP. I just hoped they'd all live... but I was prepared for the worst.
    I also wanted Jon to make a difference whereever it was he ended up.

    I say just write. You've put your trust in your characters - to keep in character - up to now. Do you think it's more that you've lost faith in them? Or, do you just know what the fates have in store for them and you're subliminally avoiding facing it? ;)

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  7. Kristi - I hate when comments poof like that! Drives me batty!

    I like that idea - I never write on paper, but this might be just the thing! Thanks :)

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  8. Elaine - Yikes! I don't think I could "eliminate" a main character! You're gutsy :)

    Hmmm, I wonder. I do love my HEAs!

    The antagonist hasn't completely come out into the open. Maybe I need to have him come on stage & set up the big finale scene. That might work.

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  9. My problem is I have the ending, I have the beginning, I know some of the results of the things that happened to get from A to B, but now I'm trying to figure out exactly what some of the main things that happened are.

    Suggestions for you:
    What is the theme of the story? What ending would be most logical to illustrate that theme?
    How do you think most readers would want the story to end? How do you want it to end? How would your characters want it to end? What is the most realistic confluence of these that would make an ending that was memorable and not overly trite.

    The method you have described about reading through analytically sounds like a good way to approach it. Maybe focus on how a primary character's ending should be.

    At least you're still working on it. I'm waiting til January to get back to mine. Maybe I'll get stumped and be asking for my own suggestions then.

    Good luck.
    Lee

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  10. Thanks, Lee. Those are great questions to ask myself.

    I actually wonder if my brain has put it on hold because of time constraints as well :)

    I'll think about those questions for a bit before I make any choices!

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  11. I'm ALWAYS stumped at the end of my MS! I never know how it's going to end and worry I won't be able to pull it all together. I'm impressed you usually begin there. For me, that would ease my mind. My advice? Read through the book like you don't know the ending and see where the characters and plot naturally take you.

    Also, I agree w/Andrew. I always want the perfect ending for my mc, but that's "too tidy" as my agent says. You have to "mess it up" a little.

    I can't wait to see how it turns out!

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  12. It took me five years to think up an end to my first book. Hope that doesn't put you off!

    I'll come to you honey. It always does :)

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  13. I had two endings in mind for my WIP and so I wrote them both and then went with the HEA because I'm a sucker for them but also it worked better. It meant that everyone had changed and grown not just the MC, well I hope it does anyway :)

    Good Luck!

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  14. Debra - that makes me feel better! I've never done this without knowing the end - mind you the only thing I've known is the end, but still...

    I think a read through is definitely in order :)

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  15. Q - LOL! Thanks a lot!!! Kidding :) I REALLY hope I get it sooner than that!

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  16. Alexa - Hmmm, yes I could just keep a couple of separate files with various endings. That might work! Thanks :)

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  17. Here is were the truth of it is for me my dear, the time needed is required if that makes any sense. If your writer's heart is stalling maybe just listen to it for a spell then once you have taken breath you go forth boldly. I don't know this will be taken well but it was said with the best of intentions.
    Warmest regards,
    Simone.

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  18. Simone - Actually, that sounds like a pretty good plan :) I won't have much time anyway until holidays arrive, and even then, it'll be chaotic - so letting it sit a spell is probably going to happen no matter what! Thanks :)

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  19. If I can't come up with an ending, it usually means I'm trying to force my characters. I'd recommend you do a re-read of the manuscript. You can jot notes as you do, if you want. See where they're really taking you, even if it's not where you thought.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  20. I usually follow my outline. But when the ending leaves me confused, the solution to fix it usually comes to me during the many times I'm rereading the manuscript as I revise and edit.

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  21. Helen - That's the plan I'm leaning towards right now. I don't have any time to put into right now, so I'll let it stew a bit more before the reread. Thanks :)

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  22. Medeia - I don't outline first - my brain just can't work that way :)

    I think the reread will be the best. I was going to plow on through, but with the hurry of NaNo, I'm wondering if I've forgotten some of the nuances, and they'll tell me which direction to go.

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  23. I only start with the beginning and have no idea of the ending. I usually just keep writing until the end shows up, even if I'm past my word count. I figure, I can always trim and tighten what I don't need.

    Best of luck with it! I'm sure you'll find your elusive ending soon!.

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  24. Calista - You're such a brave writer! I think I've decided to do the reread - just have to find the time :)

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  25. Not brave, Jemi. Just clueless. lol. Thanks for the vote of confidence though! : )

    I think the reread is a good bet. It'll come to you, I'm sure.

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  26. Thanks :) And I DO think you're brave!

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  27. Look at you almost to the end! Awesome! I think reading through it will be a good start, the characters may just be waiting to share more.

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  28. Thanks Tamika! I like that perspective :)

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  29. I don't know what the ending will be for my Nano book, either, Jemi. I've had a few moments in the writing of it where I felt I was going nowhere - sometimes I got around it by writing through it, sitting down and just letting the words come out knowing that I'd probably hack off 3/4 of them, but eventually the way through was revealed to me. And sometimes I stopped writing, and took a long, hot bath. That worked brilliantly the last time! I think if I hit another block in the writing, I'll probably give both these methods a try again.

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  30. Belle - Those are both good ideas! I haven't tried the 2nd one yet - maybe it's time :)

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  31. I can't think of one time where my ending turned out the way I had originally planned...and I like to know the ending before I start writing, too!
    It's a learning process. You learn about your characters and about yourself, and always end up surprised. I kind of like that. :)

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  32. Julie - that makes me feel a whole lot better! And you're right - I really do like the suprises my characters have for me.

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  33. I agree with Romantic Query about resting it for a spill. sometimes if you "sleep on it" even if it takes a few days or even (gasp) weeks, the right ending will come to you.

    Let us know when it does!

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  34. Elle - thanks - I'm feeling better about letting it sit. Then I think I'll do the reread & see where I'm at.

    I'll definitely keep you all updated :) Thanks!

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  35. This happens once in a while. I find that walking away for a time, just not thinking about it, gives me space. Then, when I re-read the ending suddenly materializes.

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  36. Elizabeth - I'm glad I'm not alone! That's exactly what I'm hoping for :)

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  37. I struggled with my ending. I knew how I wanted it to end, but when I got there, it wasn't quite right. Something was wrong. Then I realized the ending should've happened a chapter sooner.

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  38. Carolyn - It's really interesting you should bring this up today. It crossed my mind today that I may have mixed up the order. The scene I've just written would probably work better as the climax scene. With a little bit of fixing, I think it might flow better :)

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  39. You are making me break out in nervous hives. I'm so not a pantser; I'm a plotter all the way. Sometimes, stewing is a good thing. You might have one element of the ending and one day, the rest just comes to you. I usually have some kind of endgame goal, and the details start to gel as I go along. Good luck; whatever the ending, I know it will be great!

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  40. Jenny - you make me snort out my tea, so I'd say we're even!

    Maybe it's because of this post, but more ideas have been worming their way around my brain today. I think a bit of rearranging is in order. And a little more stewing before I start.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence! Much appreciated :)

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  41. Yep, I'm currently stumped on my WIP. I'm thinking it's got to be something to drive the theme home for my readers. Yet, it has to be not obvious and entertaining. I'm hoping it will come to me. Most endings do eventually for me. Sometimes, I have the end scene in mind and then have to figure out how to get there. But not this time! I feel your angst. I say, reread it and let it brew/stew. :) Good luck!

    Hey, maybe it's a series so there is no 'natural' ending!

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  42. Thanks Jean! I've been thinking about it, but mostly trying to keep my subconscious on it - most of my ideas pop up that way! I'm thinking I may have a bit of reworking to do, but I'm feeling better!

    Good luck with yours - it's going to be a complicated process, but the end reult will rock!

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