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All New and Shiny!

 Well, It’s finally up and running. A new version of my ‘Bridge to Story’ website will now include a blog dedicated to creative writing and my coaching. So this WP blog, ‘E.J. Runyon’s Author’s Blog’ is being re-potted over there. Where I hope it will grow into something even more beautiful.

One-by-one these WP posts will migrate to the new site, so you won’t lose any good, basic writing advice that’s been posted here. The Bridge to Story blog’s url is www.bridgetostory.com/blog And I hope to see you there.

I’ll also be starting up a new series there I’m calling “Your Writing-Coach-For-A-Day” where I’ll invite new and nearly published Indy writers to ask me 5 coaching questions.  If you think up five questions about your fiction or memoir WIP, feel free to email me, at ejrunyon@bridgetostory.com

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ejrunyon.com thumbnail

 

For those of you following this WP blog for my author news about any of my books, published by Inspired Quill (UK), those types of posts will now be found on the new e.j.runyon site. You can follow me there at www.ej-runyon.com

Hopefully you’ll want to follow both blogs. And of course to do that you’ll need to re-follow over at those sites, or on Twitter.

In any case, if you didn’t already know My latest book is titled –
 “Tell Me (How to Write) A Story” Good, Basic Advice for Novices Ready To Write”

Nook and paperback versions are due out soon. Until then, you can pick up  the e-book at Amazon:
US: http://tinyurl.com/kkcfsjz
UK: http://tinyurl.com/kjon5ub
CA: http://tinyurl.com/klq7ls9
IN: http://tinyurl.com/lv8wnwh

I love both sites; they are fuller and more engaging than this site has been and I hope you’ll enjoy both and tell your friends about them.

Thanks everyone,

ej

 

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

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant badge

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant badge

Advice for novices eager to write fiction

Getting going writing isn’t always a fun thing you’re doing. Sometimes there’re stuff that stops you.  Outward or inward things, either or, they create a halting place that seems likely to keep you at a stand-still.

Sometimes you can use a bit of help. When this problem comes up for me, I turn to folks who’ve already managed to get something down on the page that’s wonderful (in my eyes anyway).

I look to writers I admire, envy, and those I re-read, because I love their work.

So to get me going for the August Camp NaNoWriMo event, I took a great short story that I love and deconstructed it to see what it was made of.

It ended up that the story totaled 11 scenes. The longest scene was 51 lines long, the shortest– 5 lines.

WOW!

Wow

The whole story was about 2,500 words in length, if we go by the idea that each line of text holds approximately 10 words when you average out the whole piece.

So that’s 11 full-on scenes crafted from 250 lines of text.

That’s some sharp, clean writing. The moment I read it, for me, it became the best story ever.

The type of things I made notes on where mostly questions like these five here:

  • What’s the difference from the beginning of the scene to the end of it?
  • What’s the emotion/motivation/ or reaction of this scene?
  • How did this scene lead to the next one?
  • How did this symbol work in telling the story here?
  • What wasn’t said here at all, but I got it anyway? How’d they do that?

Then I took my investigation on to a new round of deconstruction and I asked things a bit more concrete, having to do more with structure work, the mechanics of things. I moved though the story scene by scene:

Scene one: Does this scene intro the character alone, or the character and their problem? What else, (other element) is introduced here?

Scene two: How many lines are used for far backstory? How many lines for closer backstory?  Out of the full 51 lines what’s the ratio of the present/far backstory/ and closer backstory?

And for scene three I noted: What will I need to do to get a scene this powerful, with this much subtext, into 13 lines of prose?

I don’t make notes of what actually happened in the story – that stuff belongs to the author, not me. I’d be a thief taking that with me.

It’s the questions the story brings up, in my excavation of its secrets, that I want, Not the writer’s words or their plot, or character’s roles with each other. Taking any of that is outright plagiarism.

I continue on with my dissection of this great story, dismantling it and making notes of my discoveries, until I have a page or two about how to write better than I write now.

Then I turn to my own characters,  I sit down to write. I review my notes,  ask these folks who are living in my own mind some of my questions. And together we try writing something that’s better than what I write now.

That’s all mine.

Happy August Nano (and other) writers.

Happy Writing.

 

Since Feb 2012, on this Author’s blog I’ve gotten visitors from 26 countries around the globe, totaling nearly 1,000 visits. Of these, there are the single stop visitors:  Finland, Thailand, Saudi Arabia,  Indonesia, Turkey, Austria, Ireland & Republic of Korea.

The other 18 countries are multiple-visits. I’m not sure if it’s the same visitors coming back again and again, or a mix of new folks and returnees. If they are here because they like my short story collection, or just fell across me in their meandering through WordPress. But either way, I’m grateful.

My publisher, Inspired Quill, and I are working on book two this summer. A How-to book for novices eager to write fiction or memoir.

I thought to myself:

Maybe I’ll turn the blog into a mini-writer’s conference for the rest of the summer. Have the posts open to Q & A’s about the how to’s and the why’s of beginner writers. Hummm…

So I’m asking any visitors for Blog topic suggestions. From for now till Tell Me (How to Write) a Story  is released— What do you want to ask about how to write fiction and memoir?

See some of the other posts here about what I write about writing.

If you know other novices send them this post. Ask them to comment and ask questions of their own. I’m open to any type of query, if it has to do with writing well, ask away.

(Start any comment with what type of genre you’re writing in)

In other news:

There’s a new book trailer out on Youtube for Claiming One. Take a look.

And for all my international visitors. Claiming One on Amazon, in a few places:

US

UK

CA

FR

IT