Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Finding the Ending

Writer Wednesday

We've talked about great beginnings and sagging middles, so the next logical step is creating an ending.  Not just any ending, but one that is satisfying to your readers.  Have you ever read a book, totally engrossed, only to throw the book against the wall after you read the ending?

Maybe the ending was contrived.  Maybe it wasn't how you would have ended it.  Or perhaps it ended too soon, before all loose ends were tied up.  These are things to consider when you are ending your book.  Where is the best place to stop?

Only you can determine that.  Look at your main characters.  Their story will determine when to end yours.  Once they have had their revelations, and come to terms with themselves and each other, it's a good place to stop.  If you continue writing after their story is complete, you'll be starting a whole new story.  For example, in a romance, throughout the book, the reader can't see how the hero and heroine will end up with each other by the last chapter.  There are many obstacles to overcome, and many lessons they have to learn about themselves.  Once that occurs, and they declare their love for each other, the book should end.  If you continue with their lives and add scenes, then you are starting a new story, and new conflicts.  These should be left for another book.

Also look at secondary characters.  You have an option for tying up their loose ends.  If you are planning a sequel, it's good to leave the reader wondering.  If you aren't, then think about how vested the reader is in these characters.  Have the characters endeared themselves enough to the reader that they will want to know what happened to them, too?  Minor characters generally do not need to be mentioned at the end.  They were only there to support the main characters. 

Remember, you don't have to reveal everything about every character.  But don't leave the reader hanging and wondering what's happened if they've cared enough to get to the end of the book.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Getting Past the Middle

A few weeks ago, we talked about beginnings—the best place to start, and how to draw your reader into the story.  You may or may not find beginnings easy as a writer.  But most writers would agree that middles are more of a challenge. 

This is where the story starts to drag.  It may also be the place where your characters start to take you in a different direction than you intended.  So what do you do?

First, talk to your characters.  Interview them, asking them difficult questions.  Don't ask, "How was your day?"  Rather, ask them "What was the best (or worst) thing that happened to you today?" Their answers will help guide you. 

Next, write down the beginning and ending points of your story.  Your characters started at Point "A".  They need to get to Point "C".  What are all the possible Point "B"s that will get your characters to the end you want for them? 

For example, at Point "A", your protagonist finds himself on the edge of bankruptcy in the family business that's been around for over a century.  Point "C" is finding the funds to save the business.  Point "B" may be winning the lotto (highly unlikely and too contrived), winning the lotto, then losing the money in Vegas (back to Point A), or asking your arch-enemy's daughter to approve a risky loan. 

There are any number of possibilities.  It's up to you and your characters to choose the right path.