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The End?

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The End?

Postby berry » Tue Feb 07, 2006 2:29 pm

I have started planning stories and though I have found this very useful I still do not know what the end of my story will be. I believe this may well me a typical rookie mistake but i would like some opinions on it. Do most writers know the ending of the story before they start writing?
I am pretty sure my way of writing so far will always leave me with this problem but also enjoy the process of seeing where my imagination will take me.
Is is a bad idea to begin without and ending?
Outside of a dog, a book is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
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Postby aldan » Wed Feb 08, 2006 1:45 am

My opinion on this is that if you have absolutely no idea where you're going, you will lose a lot of the direction of the story and end up with MAJOR editing ahead of you, just on the story part, and not even mentioning whatever grammatical edits the story may also need. I don't know if you've ever read Stream Of Consciousness stories, but they are often hard to follow, though to be honest, if done really well, they can work.

What I will usually do is have a vague idea of a beginning as well as an idea of the place I want the characters to be at at the end of the story. However, I will leave plenty of room for creative adjustment. Once I start writing the story, I will then do it as a semi-StreamOfConsciousness writing style, in that I know where I want to go, but how to get there? I don't plan it.

I then will self-edit on my 'journey', by re-reading what I wrote before and what I've just written, so as to get an idea of whether or not it all works well together. If not, I will then try to determine which one works better and then edit the other part of the story to fit the better one more cleanly. It does take quite a bit of re-reading, but it's how I'm doing it now....

Of course, until I am published, what I do should be taken with a few grains of salt.
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to open it and remove all doubt."
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Postby Darukin » Thu Feb 09, 2006 8:56 am

I agree with Aldan and IMO, it's not necessarily the most important thing to know your ending before writing the story. But what I think is important is that you don't randomly write from a thought-up beginning without knowing any direction. For me, I don't know how story events will go but I am always guided/on path knowing the major scenes that it will eventually reach, thus they're like guidelines even though I don't exactly know my ending either. And know the purpose of your story as well, and the general plot as a whole, IMO.
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Postby Magus » Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:21 pm

I agree with Aldan and Darukin. I know that I couldn't write a story if I had no idea where I was going, but I do recognize that it works for some people. Just look at Stephen King. More than fifty books, all of them international bestsellers, and none of them plotted through before he wrote them.

And, as for Stream of Conscious writing, they can be extremely entertaining. My favorite among them is the poem "Next to of course God America I" and the novel by Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried.
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Postby Caitlin » Sun Mar 26, 2006 7:32 am

Okay, I might be new, but there are quite a bit of professional writers that have no idea how a story is going to end. You just have to be intune with your writing style, and know, if you need that. Stephen King doesn't plan out his books, using guidelines, but then again, that works for Stephen King.

As mine way, probable won't work with you. Understand?
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Postby Manji » Sun Mar 26, 2006 2:00 pm

I disagree.
I don't think that the ending is important, at all, when you start writing as long as you have a pretty good grasp of how you want to begin and what the middle will consist of. As long as you have that, the ending will come naturally by following the logic of the plot.
I've had an instance where the climax was well planned and I knew the ending right away. Well, when I decided the climax was a bit too illogical and almost impossible to write in the rest of the stories current state, I had to change it.
When I went back and read everything pre-climax and compared what I had in my head post-climax, I realized I was trying to write two different stories.
So, I started rewriting it at the point where the climax was to begin and it flowed out within a few hours and I found a whole new, entirely more interesting element that elevated the plot from "interesting" to "really good".
Moral of the story; Don't worry about, "how am I going to end this?" as much as "Now how the hell am I going to get there?"
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Postby Magus » Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:18 pm

That's true, Manji. But when you plan out a story in incredible detail, aren't you still following the points that lead to the end? When you think of it, aren't they pretty much the same, if done correctly?
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Postby Cold_Sandra » Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:06 am

Often when writing, I find that I go off in a tangent and end up with something completely different. Obviously, this can lead to both good, creative ideas, and a great mess once your done. While starting without an ending might seem stepping off a mountain without any idea where you will land, starting with the ending may also lead to confusion.

My advice, is to just go with it. If you feel you have a strong begining, then go with it. When it comes time to finish your story and it feels like you have no idea how to do so, break the story down to its basic plot points and then use the beginning and go with your creative instincts until you find and ending that suits your purpose. Sure, you may then have to do a bit of editing, but the important thing is that you are happy with the outcome.
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Postby Magus » Mon Apr 17, 2006 8:56 am

I agree that the important thing is to be happy with the ending, maybe not happy about it (ie sad endings). To each his own on accomplishing this, but for me extensive planning turns out to be by far the best choice for me, it gives me direction and allows me the tools to better reach it. If, while I'm writing, I find it necesary to diverge from the plan and go off in a different direction I am not opposed to that in the least. But because I plan in such great detail, this is rarely the case, or it only divulges on non-makor points. But should it develop further, I wouldn't make plans to stop it simply to arrive at my ending.
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Postby eleika » Thu Jun 29, 2006 12:34 am

I start with an idea, then hone it. There tends to be a bouncing back and forth, like this:

Idea - Idea how it ends - Clearer idea - Clearer idea how it ends - Details - Superclear idea - details - Superclear idea how it ends - vague outline of how to get there - clearer outline - superclear outline.

I didn't have an ending set when I started my novel, except for the basic "Heroes win, world saved". (A description which does the story no justice now, but gave me a basic compass direction to head for.) Then about a third to halfway through, I suddenly realized how I wanted the really big ending to take place. I outlined the ending in great detail. Then I started writing towards that. Then I hit a huge wall when I finally reached the part where the ending begins, because there was just one last stepping stone. Then I broke through and it hasn't been clear sailing, and some of what I outlined has changed, but overall, I know what I'm supposed to do.

Just over two chapters left! Wish me luck!
Eleika's Stuff: www.eleika.com
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Postby Darukin » Thu Jul 06, 2006 4:05 am

Lol, well good luck with the two chapters.

While you're finishing your story, I'm usually always stuck with the beginning to beginning-middle of my stories because I have this thing which prevents me from progressing the story because I keep on changing my ideas about what I'd have written previously and always go back to change it and re-work the entire thing until I'm 100% satisfied, and that's why for me, what's probably the best way is extensive planning, such as what Magus does. Otherwise ideas keep bouncing back and forth and aren't consistent and I keep wanting to change things.

Still as I mentioned before, I don't think that knowing your ending before-hand is neccessarily important at all and it's completely valid to go by the flow. But, to highlight what I said before, I still do think that it is very important to know the purpose of your story and its message, and the ending should serve these things I believe and you should aim to make the ending particularly effective, as it could make or break the story sometimes. I've seen great anime series, movies and stories with great stories but with dissatisfying endings.
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Postby Grand Evander » Thu Jul 06, 2006 8:41 am

There are different opinions as to how much of a literary work should be planned in advance. I'm of the opinion that, though it allows for greater coherency while writing, having complete knowledge of a story can (emphasis on can) be detrimental. I say this because, if a person knows his/her story too well, then there is the risk of leaving out information essential to the story as a result of the writer's intimate familiarity with the plot. If we have everything planned out, we might take information for granted that we forget to include because, as we reread our work, we do not notice that we've left out something essential to the story (such as a subtle fact about the main character or something that resolves a plot hole).

That said, I do believe having a good knowledge of where you plan to go is important. I've been told by writing instructors to just write and worry about intensive revisions after much of the story is finished. True, the storyline may change, but hopefully not so dramatically that a few paragraphs can't be reworked to adjust for this change. Don't get me wrong, I revise heavily and change aspects of my plot based on the hour of day, but I realize I want this story written. For such reason (and this is my personal practice), I write at least one page a day and allow myself all the revision I want to do that day afterward.

I believe it's sometimes good when something in the story is unplanned because it can come as a surprise to the reader (usually good) as well as be an improvement upon the initial idea. Changing the story isn't necessarily a bad thing, but constantly changing it can ultimately prevent completion (as you've mentioned) as well as destabilize what's been constantly rewritten. I write with a loose idea of what's going to be written because I feel flexibility is important in case I suddenly get the be-all-end-all revelation of what direction the story should take.

What you write should be something you're ultimately satisfied with, but I've found the more you have written the more confidence you have in what you write. A story can always be better, nothing is perfect, but we should write something of which we're proud.
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