Monday, January 10, 2011

How Will It End?

I've heard lots of writing advice about how it's a good idea to have the ending in mind before you begin writing. I don't always do that, but for my still-untitled Novel #4, I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted the story to end. Except while I was revising, another idea called to me, one that seemed more fitting for my character, and I tried it out.

So now I have two different endings. Both work, but in different ways. Have you ever had to decide between alternative endings for your story? How many times have you changed your ending?

10 comments:

  1. I'm not so good at actually getting to the ending, but I have that problem with beginnings! Most of my novel WIPs have two or three alternate beginnings and, as you can tell by the fact that they aren't finished, it's kind of hard to know where you're going if you don't know where you're starting from :)

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  2. Usually, by the time I start writing I have a pretty good idea.But I can have a solid outline and then change my mind.

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  3. I'm nearing the end of my WIP and starting to panic a bit. While I have the resolution/ epilogue clear in my mind, all I know about the Big Exciting Climax is that my MC defeats the villain. Possibly with the help of a monkey. Also, hot air balloons.

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  4. Oh yes. I've had several different endings for my books. Now that I have a fan base though, I keep my readers in mind as I end a book. I want them to have had a pleasant experience and buy another novel I've written. Keep your readers in mind as you choose your ending. That might help you decided.

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  5. I usually have a general idea of how it will end, but not always. I find that as long as I know where the story goes next, I can come up with all kinds of great ways to get from point A to point B. And somewhere around point G, I have to figure out what point Z will be.

    That said, I have changed my ending... multiple times. Sometimes I just have to see how each alternative fits. Good luck with yours!

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  6. I like to keep the ending a surprise, from even myself. ;) I know some details, but not all of them. I think that's what keeps me motivated to write to the finish.

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  7. I usually have some type of end in mind when I write but by the time I get to it, it's usually morphed in some way or other. I also find that I like to add details and twists to my endings later too. Like just last night I came up with this new twist and here I thought I was finished revising! So now I've got to work that in. Funny isn't it?

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  8. Ha, endings...

    I always knew my ending in my current project but it never sat right with me and I fought it but finally I changed it. But it still wasn't right. So now I'm on ending #3.

    Still waiting to see if it will stick when I finish this year. We'll see. :)

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  9. Susanna, I always try to tell myself that I can always change the beginning -- and I usually do, several times! It can be so hard to get it the way you want it.

    Alison and Karen, it's true that sometimes you just have to try a new ending to see if it works. You could have a great idea that doesn't fit with the story once you start to do the actual writing. That has happened to me.

    Kathi, thinking about the readers is exactly why one of the endings emerged. A question I asked myself was: If I was reading this book, what would I want to happen?

    And Christy, after I answer that question, then I can see how to twist it to add something unexpected. I can hardly wait to read your new ending!

    Girl Friday, I haven't considered monkeys or balloons yet for this ending (though I think I've tried everything else). Hmm.... But seriously though, there are a few times where I've written my first draft without knowing the ending in advance. It can keep me motivated, like you, T Anne, but it can also make for a lot of revisions later.

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  10. I came across a way of thinking about endings recently that I've found really helpful. Instead of thinking about what will happen plot-wise at the end, another approach is to think about how the character's emotional journey will end (e.g. he'll overcome a fear or learn something). Somehow this approach seems less intimidating to me.

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