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Thread: dragging out the ending

  1. #1
    figuring it all out CEMartin2's Avatar
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    dragging out the ending

    So I'm a fan of surprise twists, particularly "no, the bad guy isn't dead yet" endings. Heck, I even like, "no, he still isn't dead yet" endings. But I wonder how much is too much...

    In all my Act3s, I follow classic structure. The hero(es) confront the villain for the grand finale. Everything falls apart/doesn't go according to plan, and there's that all-is-lost moment, then Huzzah! Good triumphs.

    For my latest WIP, I decided to extend that a bit...

    Act 1 has the problem presented to the heros. Then the reader follows the heros and villain, alternating perspective as they inevitably head for a showdown in

    Act 2, where the villain strikes viciously. But instead of facing off and being defeated, the heroes simply get there too late, and the villain escapes.

    There's more building-to-a-climax/preparation from both sides.

    Then in Act3, I squeeze it all together:

    Good guys confront bad guy. Plan fails.
    Good guys regroup and confront bad guy again.
    Plan fails again. All is lost moment comes along.
    Good guys finally win.


    I like the ending, but I wonder if that's too much for a reader, compressed into the finale. How many times can the heroes think they've won, find out they didn't, then think they've won again?

    Does this work? Or do I have to reduce my word count?

  2. #2
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CEMartin2 View Post
    Does this work? Or do I have to reduce my word count?
    Yeah... I'm not even going to start on before I hit on this.

    Your story ends when it ends. If you don't have enough content to hit your word count, then you should change your goal of a word count.

    Stretching the story can reflect badly. I've seen many stories that are 50K worth of content, pulled to 130K and they are not fun to read. Even if you're pulling along an extra 10K, the reader will notice.

    I would just end the story, where it wants to end. Guessing this is the first draft? If you really need to pull out more words, try to create scenes that give different angles, or give more off from the characters. First drafts either come up short, or come out long. And finish writing it. The story might come out better than you expected.


    As to your question: The only problem I see is that you built up all the emotion and stress to the climax, they characters clash, then it fails. The build up falls here. Then you have them clash two more times, which don't have any build up to them.

    I can see when a plan fails, the character reroute themselves and flank the enemy. But don't send the the protags after the antag time and time again.

    There's also problems with the antag, just letting the protags free and live.
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  3. #3
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Dragging out...are the important words in your question.

    Would you want to read a story where the ending is 'dragged out'?
    Everything yields to treatment.

  4. #4
    figuring it all out CEMartin2's Avatar
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    Sorry, I didn't mean I did it to prolong a word count. I prefer to write without worrying about word count- just fill in the blanks from my outline.

    I meant the reader might feel it was dragged out.

    When I ended my first draft, I did check the word count and was pleased to have hit as many as I did. But now I'm thinking a tighter ending might be better- but that means getting rid of words.

    I liken it to getting extra fries with your meal. Do you throw them out because you dont' really need them, or keep them and be glad they're there.

  5. #5
    living in the past ishtar'sgate's Avatar
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    There's no pat answer to this one I don't think. It depends on the writer and the story and how 'squeezed' together it is. It can make for a dramatic last few chapters or it can be a frustration, kind of like a speaker who looks like he's wrapping up only to drone on and on some more, looks like he's wrapping up again and then keeps talking and talking.

  6. #6
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CEMartin2 View Post

    I meant the reader might feel it was dragged out.
    The reader will only feel that way if the climax is low tension or repetitive or stuffed with filler.

    As to how long it should be--

    The length of the climax should be proportionate to the length and complexity of the novel. The bigger the story, the bigger the climax.

  7. #7
    Writer Erin Kelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CEMartin2 View Post
    Do you throw them out because you dont' really need them, or keep them and be glad they're there.
    If you don't really need them, get rid of them.

    If you don't want to get rid of them, make them necessary.

    Every scene must serve a purpose.
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  8. #8
    Scared and loving it... Cappy1's Avatar
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    Don't follow formulas too rigidly, this isn't Hollywood.

    If you do, your stories will lack integrity. Twists should be earned. So many people put them in for the sake of putting them in when their story would be better without them.

  9. #9
    Not as trollish as you might think Torill's Avatar
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    As long as I haven't read it, I can't say whether your ending is dragging or not. That's the boring old answer, isn't it: it all depends on the way you write it. But repetitions tend to be boring, so be careful.

    Speaking for no one but myself: the first time the villain came back from the dead I might go whoa! didn't see that one coming! The second time I might be less thrilled, and by the third I might put the book down, tired of that silly old gimmick....

    Permission to Play - Querying. Wish me luck!

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