This week: The Strangeness of Endings and NaNoWriMo Edited by: Dawn Embers
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|For Authors Newsletter by Dawn|
Another look at the act of writing endings with a particular viewpoint as we get into the novel writing month where the ending comes sooner compared to other writing attempts.
|"The end never comes when you think it will. It's always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left." |
The end of the story is an important element, one among many. As we approach November with novel writing month, I know many people are focused on beginnings because at the end of October is the time when many writers will all start writing something. However, I want to take this time to focus on the endings of stories with some particular focus put towards that section of the story when writing for NaNoWriMo.
When writing a short story, it doesn't take long for many to go from start to finish. Considering first drafts only, at least, there are less words involved and if writing for a contest on WDC, there is a limited time frame. At least, that is my experience other than the plethora of abandoned, never finished stories, the end comes quicker in short tale form. Novels, however, can take people years unless they are the type who write the end of the story first. But really that just puts the middle, near end, as the finish line as there is still some point that has to mark a draft complete.
NaNo gives a little different experience to reaching an ending, as I've noticed over the many years of attempting (and some years of completing) the challenge of writing a novel in a month. One thing I've noticed, other than the usual introductory excitement and stressed struggle over schedule to reach word count goals, has been the strangeness in getting so much done of a long story in a short amount of time.
After the excitement of the first week or two simmer down and I'm through a little of the stress of meeting word count goals, I often discover a moment where I stare at where I'm at in the story amazed at how far things have gotten. It goes so quick and it's a very rough draft but going from initial jerk into action, troubles and conflicts that direct the characters in different ways, to reach far into the story in a short amount of time has a sensation of awe about it.
Do I always reach the end of the novel for NaNo? No. Even during years when I make it to the 50,000 word goal, often the novels aren't finished. When I made my first failed attempt, getting only 10,000 words for the month that first draft didn't finish until just over 20,000 words (it is not a revised and edited 70,000 word story many years later). The year I wrote 160,000 words for November, that was not the end. It took me many months before I got around to writing the last few chapters of that novel.
So, it's okay if you reach 50k and haven't gotten the ending done yet. The goal is a matter of picking a number that makes some sense, is close enough to what one would consider novel length without giving a goal that would be overwhelming for many. It's a general goal and a good one but not the end all of many stories. Also, it's okay if you don't reach 50k. That might not be your goal or if it is and you don't reach it, that's okay too. If you don't write the ending in November, it will come at some point in the future. And if you're like me and have several that still need endings, you can use one year of NaNoWriMo to finish those before starting another novel. It's a rebel move (as classic NaNo is 50k of a new novel) but we like rebels here.
Do what you've got to do. Write a story and at some point, get to the ending. Enjoy the process and have fun.
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|Which story (yours/others) has your favorite ending?|
Back in May, I also discussed endings but with more of a focus on the act of writing along with a couple of options for people to consider who might struggle to reach the end. The question for that newsletter focused on how the writer reaches an ending. Here are some comments sent in from that newsletter:
Comment by AJBurchell- Australia
Thankyou for the newsletter.. sometimes I do feel a little overwhelmed by all the information but I have years to learn it all and I'm having fun trying it all out
Comment by SB Musing
Endings are absolutely my nemesis. I even start poems without having a clear end to them, only 1-2 really good line ideas and spread it from there. I never know what my end will be except for a few Novels I have. My characters like me to be in the dark, lately, and follow them around until I see where they're going. And they visit me, constantly, in my sleep and expand out the ideas from there.
Needless to say, I'll try these tricks. Right now, the start and the ending are alluding me. But, I am happy to have a multitude of them talking. They just gotta figure out where they're going.
Comment by Spring in my Sox
I outline, it is like having a roadmap to my destination, that way when I get there it still has a chance to surprise me a little.
Comment by hbk16
The story is mostly shaped before it is written but when I start to write some new details are released spontaneously. Any story can know a huge amount of different scenarios. I choose one. As short story it should end of course or know an open end.
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