The End of A Story

December 8, 2012

I’m still posting to the 2012 NaNo forum boards,

And a participant asked this question about first drafts; not the after NaNo editing itself but, a deeper question about when can you tell a novel is done:

 “If you have written all the way through to the end of your story, how can you tell if you’ve really finished? Surely there could always be more character development or other scenes or other scenarios. How do you know when to stop adding and that your novel is complete? I’m really struggling!”

NaNo planning endI thought about that a bit and I thought about all the novels I’ve wanted to continuing writing because I was in love with the characters, when, really, I had finished what needed to be written.

So I thought about what made it ‘The End” and how it was clear to me that I was done writing. I broke down my process and thought about the craft elements that go into a finished work. And after I posted this response, I went over it and added a few things – Here it is for you guys:

You have to know what you want the story to be about. And that has to be a finite thing – the story isn’t about a character.
It’s about what the character will do in a set amount of time.
So you need to decide: What set amount of time are you writing about?
Because anything beyond that story’s set amount of time is just another story about your characters.

A set time for a story might be a summer. It might be a school year. It might be the time it takes a young girl to follow her dream across the world to be part of the famous motion picture industry, but it has to be a set amount of time.

So try to decide on that and then ask if you’ve set your story within those time/length parameters.

Characters have arcs
A boy is neglected and abused where he lives, he finds out he is special, he’s put into a new environment, he manages some deed, and finds a new sense of home.

That’s the end of that story about that boy. Even when there will be six more stories about this boy. That is the end of the arc of this single story. A novel is about a character’s story.

A series is about the continuing adventures of your character.

Scenes also have these arcs: the state of things for your character at the opening of the scene is different at the end of the scene. Or at least it should be.

Chapters are scenes strung together, and again there is an arc – the first scene through the last should show some shifts and changes for the character’s state of being –

  • A shift their way of thinking
  • A change to their circumstances
  • Some new appearance or presentation of their new opportunities

Think about these shifts in movement the writer has caused for the reader, the writer taking the reader someplace: going from the reader seeing him as a boy living under a staircase to the reader finding out he’s the ‘Boy who Lived’, whatever that may lead to.

Many chapters use all those scenes to string together all the Characters’ arcs in the entire book. Everyone has changes in some way due to the choices they made along the way.
One kid makes a new friend. One kid makes a life long enemy. Three kids become a team. A family must accept the changes one person makes to their ‘stable lives’. At the end, all these arcs have happened; they began and they ended.

You asked: Surely there could always be more character development or other scenes or other scenarios.
Yes, there always can be. However, the first story has an ending to it.
Something is achieved. Something is let go. Something is realized. And those things happen between the beginning and the end of the set amount of time.

So, any further character development or other scenes or other scenarios, are stories you write later.
Look for your arcs in what you have now. If you don’t find them, them go back and see where they can be added. This doesn’t mean tacking things onto the end of what you have now. It means fixing the interior of the story.
But– if they are there– then a single story for this character of yours has been told. And you are finished (for now).

Hope this helps you.
ej

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Appreciation of Other Bloggers

September 30, 2012

My Blogger Appreciation Awards

reader-appreciation-award

First and foremost I would like to say ‘Thank You’ to Kyred’s Blog  for nominating me for her version this award. Please click to see her blog, it’s a friendly place to check out.

If you decide to carry it on, be honest, and run these 5 steps below. The rules for receiving this award are as follows.
1. When you pass it on, provide a link to your post, and thank the blogger who nominated you for this award.
2. Answer 10 questions within your own blog (see them below) this is for new readers to get to know you, as you may be re-blogged or bookmarked.
3. Nominate other blogs that you find a joy to read. (10 is a great number to aim for)

4. Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been nominated.
5. Include the award logo within your own blog post.

The Questions

(the question list originally stemmed from a knitter’s blog, a bit ago, I’m switching things up and going literary)

Things about E.J.
Your favourite colour? Burgundy, it reminds me of royalty.
Your favourite animal to include in a story? Cats. Large-headed, vocal fluff balls.
Your favourite non-alcoholic drink while writing? Sun tea.
Printed books or e-books?  As long as they’ve been edited to an inch of their lives, either, no preference.
Your favourite writer(s) now? Each one I coach, as I work with them.

Your favourite writer(s) ten years ago? Catherine Ryan Hyde & Christopher Moore.
Your favourite poet Classic & Current?  Classics: Alexander Pope. Current: Nick Flynn.
Your favourite time of day to write?  I’m a 24/7 type of writer.
What is your passion when it comes to your writing?  A combo of brevity with the visual, physical & visceral, well mixed. And also, too- perhaps a dash of grace and beauty.

…And my blogger nominees

I know that not everyone has time to add these awards to their own blogs, or reading lists, but here’s hoping you’ll get something from checking out these links just the same. I find that each of these bloggers have a genuine and interesting voice. And all offer a personal take on craft, writing, books, and literacy.

Who

Why

Samuel Snoek-Brownofhttp://snoekbrown.com/ He writes, post his and other writer’s work. And then, discussesthe work posted.  I cannot say enough about a blogger who goes that extra step. 
Justine  Larbalestierofhttp://justinelarbalestier.com What a find, –a writer who wants to speak of writing on their blog. Like the others listed, Justine is one I’ll always follow. My great luck finding her. 
Meg Rosoffofhttp://www.megrosoff.co.uk Meg. Wonderful writer. Crack-up blogger. She makes my day sometimes, whether by blog or twitter post.
Josephine Carrofhttp://carrtalks.wordpress.com/ Her reviews led to two or more books I’m wondering how I missed on my own.  I always click over to see what’s new on her blog. 
Zohar Laorofhttp://manoflabook.com Zohar always has a book on review I’d not think of on my own, then, there it is. Another one I can’t stop from adding to my wish list. 
Jennifer Snoek-Brownofhttp://reel-librarians.com/

She blogs about librarians & film. And she does so very, engagingly. It’s my dream site I that never thought I’d ever stumble across.  O, Joy! I did!