Knowing how it ends...

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Knowing how it ends...

Postby crit33221 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:15 pm

Hi Critters!

I'm new on here and thought I'd ask if anyone else has this struggle/process: I often am unsure of how I want my tale to end. I often find myself, or the story rather, writing itself as I go rather than having an ending in mind when I started. My character's kind of... take over... as I write scenes. Does this happen to anyone else or do you already have your plot and ending figured out before you begin?

Things usually start for me in flashes, like a movie preview or music video while I'm listening to music. And the next thing I know, I'm wanting to know what's happening to these people/characters and how did they get in that dungeon, why is she being blasted back by magic, why is she/he holding a sword at that person's throat, etc... that's how it starts for me.
Name: Alexys
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Re: Knowing how it ends...

Postby crit19292 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:27 am

I agree that characters can take over a story, but they can also bog you down in their own drama. You need to make some decisions about what is good material for showing things about a character and just annoying fluff. You should have a desired purpose for the events, as this gives the reader a sense of security that they are not wasting their time on trivial flights of fancy. Allow some humor and odd moments between the characters, but mostly keep them working at their job of telling a good story.
I will not deny myself having my opinions.
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Name: Roby Ward
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Re: Knowing how it ends...

Postby crit33524 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:51 am

You need to stay in control of where the story is going - not that it will necessarily go where you originally planned, but that any changes are YOUR deliberate decision not just letting the characters run.

That said, I've asked quite a number of writer-panelists at SF cons if they get into arguments with their characters. They ALL have answered that yes, they do, quite often. The disagreement is over what percentage of said arguments the writers lose - 80%, 90%, or 99%. (One recommended a bluetooth earpiece for this... a fairly large and conspicuous one... so that while you're arguing with your character, bystanders think you're on the phone rather than that you're insane.)

You control the destination. The characters may influence it. They have a much greater influence on the route.

First one of my characters I lost an argument with - she whacked me across the back of the head. She weighs maybe 30 pounds and has CLAWS. She convinced me she's right about a big problem with the story, and I'm solving the problem by poisoning her. But then I had to find a way to keep her alive, and that opened up a whole slew of new possibilities. Now I have to get far enough along with the original story to estimate how long it is, and choose between making it longer or writing a sequel.
Name: Don Edwards
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Re: Knowing how it ends...

Postby crit33291 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:24 am

I just read an interesting book by Stephen King, titled On Writing. He discusses this issue at some length. He said that his characters tend to take over as he writes.
Name: Robert Plowman
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Re: Knowing how it ends...

Postby crit33321 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:18 pm

Ahhh...the age-old question: pantsing versus plotting? lol

As with every other question regarding personal writing preferences and techniques, the answer "depends". Are you writing a novel? Then have at it, and follow your characters around to see where they take the story. This technique works well for Stephen King, who begins his stories with a "What if...?" scenario, then digs the bones of the story out from the ground, discovering what happens next as his characters drive the action. Of course, King's stories tend to run for thousands of pages, but they are excellent (in my humble opinion).

On the other hand, if you are limited by submission guidelines for word count, you have to squeeze a story into a tightly confined space, which means knowing how your story begins and ends, and working from there.

All stories have a natural ending. Whether you craft that ending yourself or let your characters come to it on their own depends on how much landscape you have to work with, how much time you have before your deadline, and how much energy you have to dedicate to it.

Hope that helps,
Name: Morgan Broadhead
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Re: Knowing how it ends...

Postby crit33888 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:01 pm

I think this is a matter of personal workflow. For me, it's best to outline extensively in the beginning to make sure that I've set up the reveals that come in the final act as early and efficiently as possible. If you want a tightly structured story, then outlining and knowing the ending is key. If you're not worried about that, then find your way and let your characters lead you. Good books (and bad books) can be written with either method.
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