From Exposition to Resolution

Stardate 95717.53

I have many problems. C’mon now, they’re writing problems. It took me weeks to figure out my story’s ending and even then I knew that all the pieces weren’t going to be resolved in one book. (Read my prior blog post about that particular issue here). Now the problem is everything in between.

This is something that has followed me from my fan fiction writing days. I have never been able to finish a story – it just keeps going on and on and on and….well, you get the picture. Think about that graphic – the one from high school English or Creative Writing class. This one:

story arc

Now this is the most basic of basic plot graph you can find. It doesn’t even have the same word I use in my title. Then there’s this graphic:

arcs

I’d say that kind of thing would accurately represent the J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Ring’s novels. (And now the theme song is stuck in my head. Thanks brain). I highly doubt that Firedamp is ever going to be that complicated, maybe that first little bump on the left hand side, but not the twenty bumps after.

It’s that first section of bumps that encouraged me to have not one outline but multiple outlines. I am positive that by the end of this I’ll also have a “family tree” of sorts on my home office wall showing how each character is connected to each other. I would rather have them all connect somehow than to have one random individual off in La La Land dancing around like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Unless they have a purpose.

And all that’s the challenge of writing, isn’t it? How to not make your novel feel like a cancelled TV show that has a cliffhanger ending that leaves you wondering what the point of even writing it? I always thought that finding the ending was the hardest part, but now that I have both that and the beginning, now it is everything in between. That’s all part of the adventure that I think I’m slightly scared of because they say that you write a bit of yourself into each character. Baring that little bit of soul can be intimidating and you don’t know who can read between the lines.

But you know what? That’s okay. In order to make your characters be ones folks will want to know more about you gotta bare your soul so they have soul. And when there’s that soul you can easily go from the exposition to the resolution.


I know it’s from The Hobbit film instead of LOTR but it’s in my head!


The Ending Problem

Hi. My name is Leigh and I have a problem. I have a problem ending my stories.

I don’t think it matters how long someone has been writing or if they even have anything published, it seems like it’s something that any writer can struggle with. With that being said, however, I’m an unseasoned writer who’s never been part of a critique group or had someone who can guide me through the writing process. The last time I had any sort of “class” on it was high school Creative Writing. I think that was the last time I ever finished a story because I had to in order to get a passing grade.

Aren’t those endings the worst?

The ones where you’re obligated to just write SOMEthing that kind of makes sense?

That’s how I felt when I wrote this short story for the class. It was later put into my high school’s 2004 Literary Magazine (I just aged myself right there) and won a prize for it as well. I don’t think I ever felt fully satisfied with it though and I have noticed that trend carry on into my adult writing as well.

No, I don’t mean adult as in sexy stories. Get your mind out of the gutter, people. I mean into my adult years. For example, look at my current novel. My first novel. I have been loving taking this journey that began late 2016 with an idea. It has developed into an historical adventure and I think I am afraid of ending it because I’m not ready to let it go. Granted, I’m still just working on the research and outline portion, and I have everything up to the climax at the top of the bell curve. Once I reach the falling action and the wind down from that to the resolution – my mind goes blank.

I think subconsciously my mind is not yet ready to let go of the characters. It sounds so silly, especially when I haven’t even reached that part in my first draft yet. The other problem is that the book can be any length. It can be thick like Book 8 in the Harry Potter series. It can be just one story in itself. It can have a cliff hanger and leave you wanting to know more about the characters than what’s already there. There’s so many variables in how to end the story.

What if that’s the whole point of not fully finishing the outline? What if I’m thinking that maybe there can be a second book and it just hasn’t developed in the backstory yet? So I suppose then that this problem really isn’t a problem at all. It’s, quite literally, all part of the writing process. I read on another blog not too long ago that in order to pitch a new story to a publisher you *should* have a second book planned to show them that you have faith in the story and can be something that can be easily marketed *like* the Harry Potter series. The Twilight saga (let’s not even open that can of worms). But what if the book is so good by itself that it doesn’t need a companion? I guess we won’t know until we reach that point.

I understand what that blogger was trying to say – about having faith in your own novel enough to want to have a second story to go with it. I think that that train of thought though can maybe make the potential author think too much about the future and not focus on the story at hand. If another plot follows the original, so be it. If it’s going to be a single story within itself, that’s okay too. If we focus too much on the publishing end of things before we have an actual story to work with, that can be just as distracting. So that’s what I’m going to focus on in 2018: punching out a draft and FINISHING the draft before I look for an editor. Before I scope out potential publishers. Before I seek out critiquers (which isn’t really a word. I think I just made that up). Then that way I can just let the story itself flow without all those other distractions.

Problem solved.


Locations Locations Locations

Stardate 94488.22
#WQOTD: Writing Question of the Day

Question: How many locations do I really want to attempt to squeeze into my historical novel? There are so many in one State alone that it is difficult to narrow it down. All of them have potential and fit into my time frame.

Answer: Outline. Outline outline outline. I believe I have passed the point in my research where it is time to hash out the chain of events necessary to get me from Location A to B to C. Remember:

Exposition – Rising Action – Climax – Falling Action – Resolution