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My story thinks it's not yet finished

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Prince of Spires, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

    I've run into a bit of an issue.

    When I start writing a story, I usually have a clear idea of how it starts, probably a couple of images of what happens in the middle and a decent idea of what the end will be like. I know the point where I mean to type "The end" (I actually like writing that out, a bit like crossing something of a list). It works for me for the short stories I write.

    Now, I have completed a story a couple of days ago (about 2000 words). I've gotten to the point I had in my head about where I wanted to go (main character gets sacrificed and dies). However, I can't get myself to type the end because the story keeps telling me it's not over. It feels more like I've written the prologue to something.

    The issue now is that my mind is blank about what actually comes next. I know it's not done, I'm just not sure where to take it. Or even who to take it with, since I just had the main character stabbed to death. Has anything like this happened to anyone else? How to deal with it?

    As a side note, if anyone has ideas about why you would summon a demon, I'd love to hear them. I got "revenge" which sounds a bit underwhelming and silly as a reason and "world domination" which is a bit over the top. But there's bound to be things in between these.
  2. Yora

    Yora Maester

    What are the loose ends and open questions that are still left?
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    It's possible that it feels anticlimactic because nothing has changed. The story is over, and the response is "so what?"

    So ask yourself:
    1) What has changed in this world? Is the world better, or worse since this person's death?
    2) Who is affected by the death? It is possible you got the main character wrong. Maybe the story needs to be viewed from the POV of someone else... someone who will be deeply affected by this death.
    3) What purpose does the death serve? Is it really the ONLY way out for this character? Did they make the choice willingly? Or was it hurst upon them? Main characters need agency. They need to make their own choices. If the death was thrust upon them without their own freewill, then that may feel like a let down.
    4) What moral, or lesson or theme did you hope to explore with this story? What are you hoping the reader will "get" out of it? Did you achieve that goal?
  4. Malik

    Malik Auror

    I've talked about this before on this site: I write my endings first, then plot it all backwards using flow charts (by hand, on yellow legal pads). This way, everything branches backwards; i.e., everything that I introduce in the book gets resolved at the end. Unless--as in my second book--I specifically decide to leave unanswered questions.

    I am absolutely not saying that you can't write a story or book without knowing the ending. Many people do; I'm the exception here, and not the rule. That said, I have no concept of how to do it. I know I could never, in a million years, write--or even tell--a story without knowing the ending. To me, it would be like setting up a joke with no idea what the punchline is. There are some geniuses who can do it, but I'm not one. I know how the stories end, so I know where THE END goes.

    And FWIW, my second novel starts with two kids summoning a demon by accident. They were trying to commune with one of the kids' fathers, and used a summoning ritual instead of a communing ritual. Something . . . else . . . shows up and tricks them into setting it free.
  5. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Inkling

    Reasons to summon a demon that doesn't include "revenge" or "world domination"?...

    Maybe ...you're embarking on a very dangerous mission and you need a 'supernatural insurance policy' to make sure you can complete it without fail... like, rescuing a loved one from the clutches of some villain, etc. or returning a cursed object to a place of origin avoid further or worsening calamity.

    I would argue that avenging could be a good motivation, too. Sometimes you've got to fight fire with fire.

    Otherwise, I agree with Heliotrope. You can keep exploring your work to see if there are other facets worth developing further. Sometimes a nagging feeling is something quite interesting trying to manifest. Just open a new file, save the original, and go!
    Heliotrope likes this.
  6. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    Traditionally, the most common reason to summon a demon was to learn secrets. Going through the Goetia it seems like every other demon knew things that could be revealed... for a price.
  7. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

    Hello Prince of Spires, and Welcome to Mythic Scribes!

    My storytelling experience is quite similar to that.

    I only start writing a story when I have already played and danced with it in my imagination, which involves a clear idea of how everything starts. I often know about many important things, events and scenes that are going to take place during the story, and for me having a clear idea of the most likely ending is very important as well.

    Stories have this habit of throwing surprises at me, though. Sometimes a totally new character shows up out of nowhere, and other times characters take their own actions and things that I had not foreseen happen just like that.

    Sometimes the ending is not exactly what I had imagined it would be, and I love that!

    Well, that sounds excellent to me!

    If you have this mysterious feeling like you have written the prologue to something, listen to it. This has happened to me before many times, and I know the experience of it. The story has been completed, and yet you feel that there are many more things beyond this ending, that there is a lot of potential and you can find a lot of other things beyond.

    Gather some courage, and type the ending!

    The fact that this part of a story is finished, does not mean that there is nothing else. I finished my first-ever Fantasy novel with the same feeling back in 2003, I knew there was a lot more to it and in the end it became a trilogy.

    Do not force it!

    Sometimes, we just need to wait some time and have patience with a story. If you are blank with your story at the moment, that's alright and pretty normal. Give it some time, think about it often and eventually things shall start to click right into place. Meanwhile, you can work on other stories or perhaps spend more time in different activities.

    I have discovered that travels, physical activity and dreams are great for the imagination.

    That's something that I would never do, and yes, I believe that they are real.

    Most of the times, the people that get into such activities just want political power, money and other physical benefits. Others are simply attracted to the darkness of it, and some others want vengeance, indeed. Some people are just curious and are not aware of the risks and danger involved, who knows.

    You should ask this particular question at the World Building Forum.
  8. I've never written a story that included demons, but the first thing that popped into my head was that it would be interesting to summon one because it was the only way to heal a terminal illness. And maybe that's the twist. Yes, you can be healed of the deadliest of illnesses but you'll be saddled with the demon who devoured that illness the rest of your living days. And maybe which demon you get is sort of a chuck-a-luck, place your bets, wheel of fate. So there's no way of knowing what you'll end up with, only that you are healed and then you wait to see what the burden will be.
    A. E. Lowan and Sheilawisz like this.
  9. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

    A lot of great responses. It's nice to read that I'm not the only one with a runaway story ;)
    I think this might be one of the main reasons. The main character was sort of suckered into the situation and he doesn't make that many choices. He's more led along to an inevitable ending.
    Thanks for the advice. I've found that I need to have parts of the story in my head, otherwise I'll just keep rambling on and eventually lose interest in the piece. So I'll let it simmer in the back of my mind for a while. It's not like I have a lot of choice in the matter anyway, the story has stuck it's claws in there and is refusing to let go... There's already some images forming, some feeling for the kind of story that is there. Probably starting with who will be missing the guy and going on from there.

    Traveling and physical activity definitely help. I bike to work for 40 min each day. Which is a great time to let my mind wander and think about stories. Dreaming doesn't do it for me. I either don't have them or don't remember them when I wake up. Except for that one time when I was ill and running a high fever for a week. And those dreams were just weird.

    I love this idea, though not for this story. But imagine a world where you could invite a demon into your body for some gain like curing an illness, wisdom or power. You just wouldn't know what demon you'd get and what side effects that would bring. There's a wealth of stories that flow from there. I'm definitely filing it away for future use ;)
    Sheilawisz likes this.
  10. Avadyyrm

    Avadyyrm Scribe

    Summoning a demon because they are insane, or are forced to be a insane person. Maybe they think they can bind the demon and use it's power to their own wishes, but end up wrong. Maybe as an example of their power. Or they must summon a demon to save someone. In my stories, demons may be summoned, but only because evil people or creatures want to unleash the demon on the world. The demon might be freed because a servant of the demon was somehow sent over and must bring it's master, or it's master was sealed up, and is so afraid of not freeing it that they create an elaborate scheme to free it

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