Posted in Resources, Writing

Endings – the First Draft

Writing the ending of a story can be tough. Knowing how the story is going to end is just as tough. There is no clear-cut way to figure how your story is going to end. Maybe you have it all planned out from the start. Maybe you didn’t figure out the ending until halfway through the story. Or maybe, you don’t have any idea how it’s going to end. Sure, there might be ideas floating around in your head but nothing is concrete and that’s okay.

Personally, I don’t usually figure out the ending until I get to the point where I can’t write anymore. Granted, this doesn’t happen to me often. Most often than not, I have some idea of how the novel is going to end.

Now, the good thing about writing the first draft is that nothing has to be perfect. The most important part is that it’s the first draft. This means that there’s going to be many more drafts of the same story. While the concept will stay the same and in some cases it won’t, everything else will change.

For the purpose of this post, I’ll stick with figuring out the ending for the first draft of the story. It’s not a novel just yet because the purpose of the first draft is to simply put the idea down on paper. That way, the idea has finally gotten out of your system and you can focus on writing the actual novel. I would also like to add that this isn’t about writing a satisfied ending.

When writing the ending of the story, what I do is make a list of all the potential ways to resolve the issue/problem/goal that has been the main focus of the story. Making a flow chart of the events leading up to the turning point/climax can be very helpful.

While you might not ever use one or any of those resolutions to the conflict, at least you started thinking about it. The process is to help your brain to think productively and creatively.

Once that list has been formed, try to figure out how to get from point A to point B. What would need to happen for that outcome to occur? It’s good to keep in mind that nothing is concrete. As much as you want the story/ending to be perfect, it won’t be. It’s not meant to be. At least not yet. Start with small steps and then take the bigger steps. Write those multiple endings/solutions and pick one that works . . . for the moment. There’s nothing stopping you from changing it after the first draft.

Even as a last resort, skipping the end is an option too. There is only one story that I skipped the ending. I didn’t necessarily write it out. However, I knew how I wanted the story to end. While this is nitpicking, at least, for me, I knew how it was going to end. It’s what worked for me.

At the end of the day, find what works for you. Every writer is different.

 

Posted in Resources, Writing

Scribophile

I recently joined a website called Scribophile. It’s basically a website for writers where they can post their work and have critiqued by other writers. The website utilizes a system through karma points. These points are awarded when you critique other people’s work. Through critiques, you rack up the points to post your own stories. You need 5 karma points to do this. So far, I haven’t managed to get 5 karma points yet but I’m getting there.

The stories are posted by chapters which the minimum is 3k words give or take so, I tend to read the chapter in one sitting. The website has this really cool mechanic where you can critique a work using their in-line critique option. It basically allows you to add comments and small edits throughout their work just like you can if you were editing with a pen.

There are also forums where you can discuss different topics with other writers and the Academy that provides free resources. Of course, the website also features a premium membership which cost money. However, signing up for the website is free.

While using this website, the one thing that I’ve found valuable is writing a critique. Thanks to college, I’ve had a lot of experience critiquing other’s works and so, I know how to write a critique. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m a little rusty at it, but when I wrote the critiques, my mind shifted.

Sure, I had edited my own work but that’s nowhere near what your brain goes through when critiquing someone else’s work. It is during critiquing, that I find, that I actually – kind of – know what I’m doing. It’s a good feeling when I realize that I know what I’m talking about. While I might know everything and critiques are only, in a way, personal opinions, feedback on any work is important. You need a fresh pair of eyes.

The story gets so wrapped up in your head that you can’t really see the big picture anymore. I’ve had a lot of experience with this and, just taking a break from inside my head to read/critique someone else’s work, gave me a huge energy charge. In one instance, I realized that a writer had the same problem as me. The setting wasn’t all there and I was able to point that out which made me more aware of what my story was lacking too.

So far, Scribophile has proved, at least to me, to be a very helpful resource. While I might not be on it at all hours of the day, the time I do spend on the website has been very valuable to me. All that’s left for me to do is to get 5 karma points and post my first chapter up for critiques.

Posted in updates, Writing

Starting the New Year

2018 has started out to be very productive. I have finished my first book of the year called Vampire Hunter D, Vol. 1 by Hideyuki Kikuchi. Now, on to Vol. 2 which I have to find somewhere in my closet. It’s a series that I’ve been meaning on reading for a while now and I hadn’t been able to find any of the paperbacks for until only recently.

Each day has been filled with productivity and I won’t think about how my motivation might diminish in the future. Instead, I’ll focus on the now and worry about all that later. There are a few changes I wanted to implement in my writing routine. I don’t it’s anything drastic so to speak. This week, I’ll start off with including a scene I wrote for the prompt: “Do you remember the first time we met?” he asked.

“Do you remember the first time we met?” he asked.

“No,” she replied icily.

His face contorted in pain. “Casey,” he began.

Casey turned her body away from him. She focused on the breeze pulling at her braid and on the darkening clouds overhead. A few families were speckled throughout the park. The sings squeaked with every push and the children’s laughter reached Casey’s ears.

Of course, she remembered when they first met. It had been a day much like today. The only difference was that it was raining. She was practicing for a marathon and he was riding his bike without his glasses. Their meeting started with a trip to the emergency center. Casey took a deep breath distancing herself from those memories.

“What do you want?” she asked bluntly. “After all this time you call me and want to speak. What do you want?”

She twisted around, resting her back against the uncomfortable bench. Her arms were crossed. Jonathon reached toward her but stopped.

“Why do you think I want something?”

Casey clenched her jaw. Her gaze was focused on the dancing blades of grass in front of her. “Because you’re the type of person who uses people and discards them like trash.”

“You don’t know me.” Jonathon’s voice was low.

Casey smirked. “I date you for almost two years,” she said softly. “Trust me. I know you.”

“Why are you making this difficult?” Jonathan suddenly cried. “I just wanted to talk.”

His words reawakened a long-buried anger. Casey swirled around. “Oh, so now you want to talk,” she spat. She stood. “You didn’t want to speak when it actually mattered. When a simple explanation sufficed. You’re unbelievable.”

Jonathan jumped up. “What was I supposed to do? You didn’t want to tell me –”

“It was none of your business,” she interjected.

“You were my girlfriend!”

“Because that actually mattered back then,” Casey retorted. Her hands clenched. “I was only your girlfriend when it was convenient for you.”

“What was I supposed to think when you disappear for days with another guy? There were pictures Casey. Was I supposed to ignore that?”

Casey’s chin trembled. “You were supposed to trust me.”

That’s what I have so far. I might expand this a little more once I figure out enough details. Mostly, I was making things up as I went. In my humble opinion, I don’t think it’s a bad start.

Posted in NaNoWriMo, updates, Writing

Writing the Muddle

We’ve reached the second week of November which also makes it the second week of NaNoWriMo. So far, I have met my daily writing goals every day. I must admit there were times when I was typing up words just to increase my word count when a few words sufficed. Needless to say, Clan of Blood (the current title) is going to have a lot of edits.

Currently, I have written past any scenes that I had planned out before hand. There are two events that I know I can write next. However, I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen after those two scenes. A part of me feels like I’m dragging this story out because I’m more focused on the word count than the actual plot. Yet, another part reminds me that there’s still plenty of days and words left to finish writing Clan of Blood.

While writing the entire book is my goal for this NaNoWriMo, I’m not going to force myself on this path. I don’t want to restrict myself on adding anything or skipping over a scene because I’m only focusing on the end – that I need to reach the end of the novel by November 30th.

As I write this, I realize that I’m having trouble writing the middle. Or how I’ve heard it referred to ‘the muddle’.  I find the middle hard to write. Maybe it’s because the plot isn’t quite working or I haven’t planned it out correctly. Or maybe it’s got nothing to do with any of that. I’m having trouble mostly because the ending isn’t clear to me just yet. Granted, I haven’t really thought about it and that should be (and is) the next step for me.

However, I’ve written other novels, and with those, I’ve learned a few tricks. I tend to ask myself. ‘How can I make the characters struggle a bit more?’ I can’t make it too easy because otherwise there wouldn’t be interesting. Life is a struggle even on the page.

I also think about how to raise the tension which also comes hand in hand with conflict. With dynamic characters that have opposite goals and/or contradicting view points, having conflict isn’t that difficult. One person wants to use the amulet to seal a demon portal. The other person wants to use the amulet to remove a curse and the amulet only has one usage.

The middle could also be used to add subplots, include obstacles, etc. The one thing that I tend to keep in mind is how to get to the end. I want the scenes in the book to matter. They have to all lead to the end. Even though they may twist and turn, everything must count because what’s the use of adding something if it doesn’t play into the story? Every scene has to move the story forward. Otherwise, the story stops and it doesn’t go anywhere. I like to avoid that at all cost. If I’m not interested in writing and it gets boring for me then why would my readers want to read it? At least, that’s what I think.

And ultimately, it’s a rough draft. It can be a very rough first draft and that’s okay. Things can be changed later, they can be deleted, other things can be added, that’s the beauty (and horror) of editing. Just write. And worry about everything else later.

 

Posted in NaNoWriMo, updates, Writing

NaNoWriMo – Skipping Scenes

Day three and 5k words down, 45k to go. For some reason, it’s getting harder and harder to write those 1,600 or so words each day. It probably has to do with the fact that I don’t usually write the same amount of words each day. I guess it doesn’t help that I’m still working on rewriting Crimson Queen through the month of November or that I’m updating my Wattpad story on a weekly basis. I seem to have put too much on my plate. What can I say? I’m an overachiever at times.

I almost want to count my word count of those stories but I won’t. Personally, I think that would be cheating on my part. It’s just this mentality that I have where all 50k words must be part of one story as oppose to other projects. It’s just my way of thinking. For better or worse, I’m going to keep doing this until I can’t anymore.

Today, however, I will say that I was surprised by my story. Let me explain. As I struggled to continue the story from where I stop yesterday, a different and unrelated scene came to my head. It had nothing to do with the main story. I still don’t know if I’ll include it in the final draft but I’m not worried about that. I just knew that my mind wasn’t as exhausted after a long work week as I thought it would be and proved to me that there were still some creative juices up there. I put these creative juices to good use.

Writing a story doesn’t have to be linear. It is okay to skip around or take a break from the main story. When a story becomes painful to write and pulling out air is the next stage, something has to change. I’ve had this happened to me many times. I’ve gotten so stressed out about continuing the story that I don’t give myself a chance to take a deep breath and step back. Today, however, it was different.

For the second half of my daily writing goal, I typed up an emotionally charged scene between my two main characters. My fingers flew across the keyboard and my wrists started to hurt but I didn’t stop. This scene was important to me and my characters. I had to put it on ‘paper’ before I forgot. While the story didn’t progress much, I got to try an extra seven hundred words just for writing an unplanned scene. The words just poured out of me and I didn’t care if it related to the main story or not. I was skipping scenes and that was fine.

If writing unplanned scenes is something that gets me to write and discover my characters and more of my plot then so be it because eventually, those scenes can link together to become a cohesive story.  Some scenes may not be used but at least I wrote something. I gave the writer and creator inside me an opportunity to create and step away from the story that had started to ‘bog’ me down.

It works with writer’s block too. You’re not sure how the story will progress so why not put your characters in another situation, in another scene, and see what happens? It doesn’t even have to be part of the story. Not really. What if they would have done something completely different at the beginning of the story? Where would they be now? How would the rest of the story work out? Not only do you get distance from the current story and give your mind a break, but it might just help get those creative juices flowing again.

You’re still writing. You’re using those characters and world. Nothing has changed. Not really. It almost feels like writing fanfiction. Almost.

In the end, different methods work for different people. One way may work better for one person than another. It’s all a matter of how you write. Will I be using these extra words towards my daily word count? Yes I will.