Always know the ending before you write – Discussion #4

This week the discussion is about the endings, and knowing it in advance. Do you tend to know the ending before you start?

For me, I do. It’s not the complete ending, as it may change, but I like to know when it ends. I have heard though that knowing the ending affects the whole story, but I think when you write, you need to know when it ends, otherwise the story will go on forever.

Also, if you don’t know the ending, it may not keep with the theme. It may drift off to uncontrollable conditions which you cannot sort out. For me, it’s like you’re taking the journey as well. I think that you need to plan ahead!

Do you agree? Comment below with your opinions!

Also, don’t forget that I’m looking for your writing advice, so comment below. I’ve also recently got Google +, so please add (@LiamO’Dell)

Liam

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12 thoughts on “Always know the ending before you write – Discussion #4

  1. Definitely agree. When I start a story I always have an ending in mind, but like you the details may change but the main gist of it will remain fixed. I’ve done it with my novel, with my short stories and currently with my serial novel.

    I also believe the reader should also get some sort of idea near the beginning, how, when or where the story will end. This is especially important with serial novels where the reader may or may not get to provide input along the way. I’ve saw a post once by a frustrated reader who had no idea where the story was going or where it might end. In fact in my opening chapter I made a point of showing the reader where the end of the story is likely to be (3rd paragraph of the first chapter – where I touch on it, not where it ends 😉 ). It’s great to allow the reader to control some aspects of the plot but you still need to exercise some sort of control so it doesn’t wonder off into oblivion. This destroys the story. It must stay more or less on track.
    Bottom line: The reader must always know where they are.

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    • Great views! Absolutely agree. A reader should not be left frustrated by a book. You should know roughly how the book will end and yes you should hint to them to keep them interested, and let them think about where the story is going (also known as foreshadowing). This helps if you want to do a sudden plot twist. As the reader will probably go “Hang on! I was expecting X to get married to Y!” Or whatever it may be.

      I suppose it’s true when they say a story is like a journey. In this case the reader being the one taking the journey. And as we all know, the one thing we don’t want to happen on a journey, is get lost.

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      • Foreshadowing – that’s the word I couldn’t think of. Yes.
        I’ve been meaning to write a page about the importance of The Journey. There’s a bike shop I pass every day to work that has “Worship The Journey” painted on it’s store front. I think it’s so widely relevant. It’s not all about the destination. It’s about knowing where it is but equally about everything else along the way. I know a woman who cycled solo from London to Christchurch, NZ in 20 months. Now THAT was a journey! I’m still in awe. More on that another time. 🙂

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      • Haha! Great! I’ll look forward to that post!

        I came across the word when I came across John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, interesting technique for a writer!

        Wow, very inspirational! 🙂

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  2. I agree with you and Richard. If you write without any structure then it’s very hard to know where you’re going and come up with a coherent narrative that a reader can follow.
    ‘Stream of consciousness’ type writing can be very poetic and beautiful to read but unless you’ve got a very efficient sub-conscious to keep you on track, then it’s going to be hard to create a story with that crucial beginning, middle and end.
    I don’t plan in the detail that some authors do (the amount varies a bit depending on the novel and what I’m trying to achieve) but it is important to have an overview of what the story is about and how it will be resolved. Some things will change and certain ideas will suddenly spring into my mind part way along the journey but I need to have a destination in mind.

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    • Great views! Thanks for commenting and visiting my blog! 🙂

      Yep, I always structure my stories with a chapter plan. I usually stick closely to that, but you have to accept the way the book goes. After all, the writer can be considered as a “spectator” telling the story and watching the character live their lives.

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  3. I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, having a plan is good because it keeps you focused. You’re right about the danger of wandering off into endless nowhere, and you’re right about the danger of the ending no longer fitting the theme. On the other hand, the theme can change over the course of the story, and the ending you chose may no longer fit. I think that it’s good to have an ending, but you have to be willing to change it if it’s no longer working.

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    • Thanks for commenting and visiting my blog! 🙂

      Interesting, the theme can of course change, but to me, I always have in my mind a main theme which never changes. But yes, some themes can change, and the plot will always change. I don’t think that I’ve heard of a single book where the plot or theme hasn’t changed. To be honest, an idea of where the characters are at the end, rather than knowing the “ending” is better.

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      • Absolutely. It’s important to know where you want to leave the characters, otherwise you’ll just follow them until they die of old age or you get bored of writing about them. I’m just not sure it’s a good idea to fixate on an actual ending scene before you’ve written anything–unless you’re willing to change your mind if you need to.

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      • Yep, you must become attached to them until the point where there story has been told.

        I tend to plan before writing, this includes me having to construct a chapter plan where I know what happens in every chapter (including the ending). But I don’t stick strictly to it, I’m trying to experiment with the plot, and write and follow the journey that the characters want to take.

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