Tag Archives: writing the end of a story

My writing life: magic and mayhem #amwriting

This last week I managed to get quite a lot of writing done—just not on the projects I had planned. I seem to be more in short story mode right now.

I had an idea for a short fantasy involving Gods and mortals, and that one is finished.

Then I had an idea for a post-apocalyptic tale of madness and murder, which is about halfway to the conclusion.

I am still reworking and rewriting the first draft of a novel set in my Tower of Bones world whenever I have a flash of brilliance.

Also, I am still working on devising a shocking-but-logical finale for my alternate Arthurian novel, Bleakbourne on Heath.

Many of you know that Bleakbourne began life in serialized form in 2015 on a now-defunct site called Edgewise Words Inn. It was written and published one episode a week.  I began with writing and publishing the first chapter only, and no idea where it was going to go after that.

It was a challenge, writing it in serial form and trying to turn out one installment a week.

At first, it all went well. However, at what would be the midpoint of the novel, the well of creativity ran dry. I had no clue as to what to do next. When that happened, once a week became twice a month.

I managed to squeeze four more installments out and then couldn’t think of how to write the final stand against Evil. On my writing group’s advice, I ended the serial on a happy note with a wedding but left a major thread dangling.

Cliffhanger endings aggravate readers who don’t want to wait a year for the rest of the story. I had to give my readers a reward for their faithfulness, and resolve most of the subplots. This is why I wound up most of the side threads and ended the Bleakbourne serial with a wedding.

This last December, I went back to edit and flesh out the first chapters and add a few that weren’t included in the original serial. In that process, I discovered that my subconscious mind had left several important clues that point me in the direction for the final confrontation.

I need to do some serious mind-wandering, and let this magic-flinging shindig roll around in my head a bit before I can write it.

Writing Bleakbourne as a serial and publishing it almost as soon as it left my head was a good experience. I had great input from readers, which was something I hadn’t expected.

It was also terribly difficult to keep on task and meet the publishing deadline. Making each installment readable took up far more time than I expected it would. I had no time to write anything else.

I discovered that, while I can write quickly if I have to, I don’t write well under the pressure of a weekly deadline.

For me, writing good endings is the most difficult part of writing. And in Bleakbourne,  so many possibilities presented themselves that I had no idea which way to end that unwieldy, complicated storyline.

That experience reinforced my need to write from an outline as a way of not getting stuck without a good finish. I may not stick to the outline but having a list of ideas gives me a jumping off point. Even with an outline I struggle to make every story’s finish logical, yet unexpected and memorable.

The final cataclysmic event must be a powerful emotional thing for the reader. Therefore, I have gone back and put more pressure on Merlin and Leryn in the earlier chapters.

The higher the emotional stakes when they meet Mordred for the final showdown, the more emotionally satisfying the final resolution will be for the reader.

This resolution will be final, with no loose threads.


Filed under writing

#amwriting: the end: separation anxiety

Map of Neveyah, for RizAeroNothing is more difficult (in my opinion) than finishing a novel that has been stalled for three years. My current work in progress has been through three different incarnations.

Two other books have been published during this time because  I couldn’t find a satisfying way to end this chapter in the history of Neveyah.  Perhaps it is a case of separation anxiety, but for one reason or another, it has never gotten to the true finish line.

My current focus is on finishing the final draft of this novel and getting it submitted to my editor. This book must wind up the Tower of Bones series, and it has to finish BIG.

While I am doing this, I confess I feel the same mix of feelings as I did when my youngest child left home–a sense of loss combined with pride and the thought that freedom looms.

4th qtr of MSSo let’s talk about the all-important fourth quarter of the story arc.

At this point in the story arc, the final plans are in motion. We’ve met the enemy part 1 and survived the encounter. We’ve suffered a terrible setback. Now we’ve regrouped.

In the third quarter, major events have unfolded that point to the conclusion. Based on my structural editor’s suggestions, I  inserted new scenes into the existing narrative that drive the action to the final conflict. Those are all finished and are where they should be.

  1. At the outset of the 4th quarter, all my subplots are resolved and the final focus is on the Dark God’s move.
  2. The Dark God’s final pawn in this game must be exposed to the reader.
  3. The enemy’s plan and their true nature must be shown.
  4. Someone who was previously safe is now in peril. Their fate hangs on a thread and the outcome is unclear.
  5. The heroes must face the fact that their efforts to preserve their homeland has forced the enemy’s hand in a way they never expected
  6. The resolution for these characters is final, no loose threads can be left at the end of this book, as it completes the trilogy.

My work right now revolves around taking the new material and blending it into the existing story. Foreshadowing must be inserted and some otherwise great passages will be cut. This is because anything that does not drive the plot to this end is a side quest, and there can be no more of those.

This means one whole storyline that took six months to write will be cut, but it’s not a waste. There will be more opportunities for writing in this world, and that storyline could become a novella. These are great characters and the villains are as intriguing as the heroes.

As I said at  the beginning of this post, I am seeing this novel coming together at long last, and I am loath to let go of it. But I am excited to see it coming to this conclusion and feel good about it, despite having to shed some of the work that took so long to write.

The events have been detailed. Making sure this story flows seamlessly is time-consuming but it’s my obsession, so poring over the manuscript is what I am doing when I could be playing games. (Hear that Aveyond Stargazer?)

The Story Arc copy


Filed under Publishing, writer, writing