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I can never finish anything

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Darkfantasy, Sep 30, 2020.

  1. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Know your ending even if you don’t write it first is good advice, but of course, allow for changes. Of the problems with “high concept” ideas is that the endings sputter and flail. It’ll also give you a destination, and might make finishing easier.

     
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  2. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    We're going to get into some theory now, but stick with me.

    Knowing your ending also makes it easier to know where your climax is going to be.

    This is important because knowing where the climax happens in the text (the text being the story you're writing down; e.g. "a farmboy gets lost in the woods and discovers a magical floopdangle that makes him a wizard") makes it possible to plot and pace your subtext (the unspoken bit that your story is really about; e.g. "the magic of the floopdangle is within each of us") so they sync up at the climactic scene.

    Without both text and subtext crossing paths, what should be a climax of your novel will just be a significant rise in action. And while a huge rise in action toward the end of a story is fun, it's not remotely as powerful as having what you're typing and what you're really saying both finally syncing up. I know at least one literary theory prof--my old one--who would argue that if your subtext and text don't sync at the climax, you don't have a novel; you have a novel-length story. I personally wouldn't go that far, but I will say if you really want your novel to knock someone over, plot all your subtext lines, your allegory, and ironies right next to your main plot points when you outline and build your synopsis, and make it all meet up at your story's climax.

    99.999% of readers will never know you did it intentionally; they'll just know they loved it.
     
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  3. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    You have no idea how hard it was to type that whole thing without once referring to "climaxing together" and giggling like I'm twelve.

    I'll show myself out.
     
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  4. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I've been out here for about 5 minutes, now. :D
     
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  5. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    I was being SO GOOD, everybody. Damn it . . .
     
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  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I'm really curious as to what that outline actually looks like.
     
  7. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    It involves a lot of heavy lifting, but it gets the job done.

    The synopsis for STONELANDS is about 4000 words,17 pages. Each plot point corresponds to one of the 24 structure points in Steve Duncan's 8-act framework (I initially used Vogler's three-act, which I'm still using for BY THE SWORD, with some modifications). The actual, literal structure point title is next to the corresponding initial paragraph in uppercase bold. The effect of the plot point on the subtext, if any, is under each paragraph in a different color. Metaphor, irony, and imagery structural points are also noted in bold.

    Each book starts as 5-10 pages of flowcharts on a legal pad, and I adjust the synopsis with every rewrite, since the story morphs slightly with each fresh draft. This way I ensure I hit all the expected plot points each time and everything still lines up.

    My two WIPs are the first time I've literally incorporated this stuff into the synopsis, and I like it a lot better this way. Before this, it's always been drawn into the flowcharts or noted in the margins.

    Synopsis Page 2.PNG
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
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  8. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    This looks a lot like our outlines, except my wife does everything longhand and then we space it in OneNote so I can have it scrolling across the bottom of my screen. Love technology!
     
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  9. joshua mcdermott

    joshua mcdermott Troubadour

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    I tend to just do it graphically - but I am not nearly as organized as you. I don't, as I said, actually know the ending. But I do draw lines on paper representing the plot and subplots and try to craft the arcs wide ant first and then find intersections and opportunities to "come together" - which is like climaxing but maybe slightly different.

    Mostly its organic though and I find that the sub-plot and the main plot don't miss the mark that often -

    I mean, planning out a climax can lead to disfunction-- sometimes you just have to go with what feels right and trust you get there.
     
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  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Does anyone else here have trouble with knowing the ending? Aside: I cordially hate Joseph Malik and his ilk (yes, he has an ilk) because they seem to have some magical power I do not. I have come to terms with this. Really I have. </aside>

    I've "known the ending" on every book I've written. Oddly, I've not done that on my shorter work. But the novels, yeah. With Goblins, I knew that the goblins would be turned back but not wiped out, and Constantinople would stand. With Second World, I knew what my explorers would discover. With A Child of Great Promise, I knew what she would find out about her past and how that would resolve.

    But in each case, the *real* end was somewhat different. I can't really go into it without revealing each book, but to give a vague example, it turned out that the ending for Goblins has more to do with the character arc of the MC than it does about goblin invasions and heroic defenses. I didn't see that until I was very far into the writing. The same kind of thing happened with the others.

    So, for me at least, the trick is how to know the *real* ending, where the *real* story lies in order to plot coherently backward. I just can't seem to manage it. Others can. [envious hate waves rise from his words] Aw geez, did I type that out loud?

    Anyways. I bring this up partly to find out if others have the same issue and partly to say to others they're not alone. You're never alone.

    OK, break's over.

    Edited to add that I admire the heck out of Malik and y'all should listen to him. And his ilk.
     
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  11. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    We always know the ending going in. We know how the entire 20 book series is going to end, for that matter. But, it's worth noting that endings can change as the story progresses and no outline is set in stone.
     
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  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Augh. Another with secret magical powers!
     
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  13. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Anymore, apart from 'proof of concept' type tales to explore this or that idea or setting or whatnot, I don't start writing a story until I know the ending. Learned that lesson with 'Labyrinth: Journal,' the first draft didn't so much 'end' as 'stop.'

    The details of the endings can and do change a little from the original concepts, but the main points...those are pretty well settled. I knew how the massacre in 'Empire: Country' would play out, and I also knew Tia would be ambushed afterward, believing herself safe. Likewise, the climax confrontation near the end of 'Empire: Capital' was always set to work a certain way (albeit with minor alterations) as was the interrogation afterwards. I knew at the outset that Tia would be kidnapped (sort of) at the end of 'Empire: Estate,' and that Peter would make it his top priority to rescue her. And the massive destruction and ominous portal at the end of 'Empire: Metropolis' was also a given. Now, a bunch of the details getting to those points did change, but that was just....writing.
     
  14. italian in japan

    italian in japan Dreamer

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    I feel this may be one of the most common issues for most writers and aspiring writers. there's a sort of barrier that needs to be surpassed between the inception of the story and the realization of it on paper.
    when it happens to me, it's because a character that i thought being cool and relatable starts losing flavor, or a story i thought being engaging, starts feeling derivative, embarrassing even. in some cases those feelings are correct. in others, it's because i'm afraid. but back to your issue, one thing to know is that it's a common occurrence. writing is an extremely demanding task, especially mentally, and it requires immense focus. in other words, life gets in the way easily.
    i like to think that most of my writing happens when i'm not writing. maybe i develop portions of the story while i cook, drive, read another book. i take notes while i'm watching a tv show; sometimes i eliminate entire passages, without writing anything new.
    if i were you, i would make sure, before i sit and write, that i knew exactly where my story starts and where it's supposed to go, and maybe a few things in between. find an ending that you would be excited to get to as a reader, or a writer. make it so through thinking or notes, that you're looking forward to getting to that part of the story. whatever is in between might feel like a a filler, but it won't be, because it will all be to build up to the point you want to reach. This is not top say that you need to find a definitive story. things can change (and likely will), but will probably be replaced by components that excite you even more than the former ones.
    in doing so, you will likely find other aspects of your own story that you're excited about. it won't happen immediately, but at one point you will constantly think about your story and how to develop it, and writing it will be no longer a chore, or something that comes hard to do, but a true relief.
     
  15. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I had the ending (more like the denouement) of Sundering the Gods Series written years before getting there, but I also tend to leave The Climax unwritten. That’s like my treat for getting that far, heh heh. But I also know the climax, it’s a waypoint I’m writing toward. However, they are a bit loose. A character I had planned on having live at the end of Whispers of Ghosts ended up dying. I might regret that, but I concluded that keeping him alive might be more of a complication for the next series than he was worth, so he croaked.

    I will also note that while I admire outlines and synopses, I don’t do them. At All. Not a Lick. For me they suck time and energy. I write the book and if I have a thought, I jot it down, a sentence or two at most and probably not complete sentences. Like last night, I noted “A True Face will lose the ability to appear as they would be aged.” It was detail I hadn’t thought of before, and not even plot oriented.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
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