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View Full Version : It is just me or is it a normal problem?



glassquill
12-14-2006, 06:43 AM
Now halfway through my WIP, I've come to realise I have a problem. I wouldn't mind it so much if it was a 'once in a blue moon' thing, but it looks as though it's something that has been following me around all these years.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that I can't write endings. The reason is not because I write really bad endings (I'd be happy if I could manage even that much). Even when I was in school, I never finished any of my essays.

I might take some time to get started, but once I've got the first sentence down, I don't have a problem with the flow but when it approaches the end, I start beating around the bushes and doing anything except writing 'The End' on the essay or story.

I often have a clear idea of how I want the story to end, but it's getting there that's proving to be a real problem. I've tried outlining, but no joy there.

I'd really appreciate any comments or suggestions that could help me before I run into a Writer's Wall (again).

veinglory
12-14-2006, 06:45 AM
Hmm. I normally plot the whole story from the ending back. My wall, well, hurdle, tends to happen somewhere in the middle.

PeeDee
12-14-2006, 06:48 AM
Normally, I have an ending in mind when I start. I don't demand that I actually reach that ending, just so long as it comes out. All stories come out somewhere.

I COULD continue my story too. I don't. You can't either. Pick a nice and shiny point when enough matters seem to be resolved to make it comfortable, and then say "This is The End."

Sometimes, it's nothing more graceful than that, I'm afraid.

Gray
12-14-2006, 06:56 AM
So, disturb people or just yourself. Write the wrong end first, the one that won't let you rest. Maybe then an ending that doesn't seem too neat or solvent to be real or disturbing that it's wrong, will find it's way out. Anyway just my two cents and it's probably worth less than that.

JennaGlatzer
12-14-2006, 06:57 AM
Hi glassquill! I wonder if it's just a fear of finishing that has you knotted up. Like, that you're thinking this is IT, this is the "final ending."

My suggestion: Commit to write more than one ending. Commit to write at least 2, possibly 3 endings, so you can choose which one you like best. Make it a game for yourself. That can take the pressure off trying to tie it up perfectly on the first go. And keep reminding yourself that "the end" isn't really "the end"-- you can always go back and edit later if it turns out to be not quite the perfect ending you had envisioned.

PeeDee
12-14-2006, 06:59 AM
If all else fails, write And then he woke up, and it had all been a dream.

Birol
12-14-2006, 07:01 AM
Is it endings or middles that are your real problem?

PeeDee
12-14-2006, 07:03 AM
Is it endings or middles that are your real problem?

Och.....THAT'S a good question.

Julie Worth
12-14-2006, 07:07 AM
The reason you have a problem is that the story has not ended. The "clear idea" is the conceit of your conscious mind, but the story comes from your subconscious. You can't force a conclusion on a story before its time. You may be tired, bleary eyed, but the logic of the story is in control.

I have no problem with endings. Because when all of the loose threads converge, I know that is the climax, and the end immediately follows.

glassquill
12-14-2006, 07:32 AM
Oh wow. Thanks a lot for the feedback everyone. It's a pleasant surprise to have some response in such a short time.

Veinglory, I usually glide through the middle. It might not be readable amidst the mess, but the bones are in there somewhere. Maybe I have a problem with resolution.

Jadezuki, great to hear that your ending was well-received. I'm sure you've worked hard to get it there. I must make a point to drop by and check it out.

PeeDee, good one about the 'dream' ending. Maybe I should give it a go. :tongue I shall have to try and curb my ramblings in the bottom half of my work. Right now, it's looking like flourishing kudzu.

Gray, I think the going rate for good comments these days are about a dollar per piece so it might be worth a bit more than you thought.:) And the problem is not so much the last few sentences as much as it is the chapters leading to it where the disintegration starts.

Hi, Jenna. I've never thought about it from that angle. Maybe it's the subconcious fear of ending the story. I know I'm not fixated on perfecting the ending. Not when what comes before it has enough mistakes to drain a couple of red pens per chapter. :D

Birol, it's not so much the ending itself as the chapters leading up to the ending. See the above kudzu comment. :)

Julie Worth
12-14-2006, 07:35 AM
You have publicly ignored me, and now i hate you!

glassquill
12-14-2006, 07:35 AM
Hi, Julie. You've got a good point there. Strange how the mind works. I have a feeling I wouldn't want to meet mine in a dark alley somewhere. :tongue

PeeDee
12-14-2006, 07:36 AM
You have publicly ignored me, and now i hate you!

There there. It's okay. They can be so mean, these writers. It's all right.

Julie Worth
12-14-2006, 07:38 AM
Pours another glass of pinot...

glassquill
12-14-2006, 07:42 AM
Eeek! No hate me. :scared: Won't do it again, promise!

Birol
12-14-2006, 08:07 AM
Birol, it's not so much the ending itself as the chapters leading up to the ending. See the above kudzu comment. :)

Right, and that's part of the middle. Perhaps you could try this when you hit this problem again -- write the ending before those problem chapters, then you can go back and sorta fill in those sections.

glassquill
12-14-2006, 08:14 AM
Thanks, Birol. I'll give it a go. Right now, I'll try almost anything to avoid running face first into the wall. :tongue

Kate Thornton
12-14-2006, 06:34 PM
I found - after four novels - that I couldn't get the endings right either. So I started to write short stories, where the ending is critical. Now that's what I write. No more trouble with endings as I have a *very* limited space in which to tell the story.

rugcat
12-14-2006, 09:59 PM
One of the problems with endings (and this is no help) is that they're intrinsically difficult. Itís not just about having a finish, itís about tying everything together that came before in a way that makes sense - fresh and surprising while at the same time, satisfying and inevitable. When youíre in the middle of a book, esp for those of us who donít outline, the possibilities are infinite. The closer you get to the end, the more constricted you become.

Fragments with great potential are easy. Finished products are hard. Think of how many books and movies start out great, then falter at the end with unsatisfactory conclusions. Itís not because the writer didnít care; itís because the hardest part of any creative work is completing it and coming out with an organic whole.

Celia Cyanide
12-14-2006, 11:07 PM
I once had a teacher. He was a published novelist. He said that the ending should be the last image you want your reader to have when they finish. I've always found that helpful. It sounds like common sense, but it puts in into perspective.

dclary
12-14-2006, 11:13 PM
In the "Snoopy on Writing" book I have, one famous author talks about how hard it is for him to write endings.

Essentially the two times he's written great endings it only happened after he did something so stressful it made him vomit with nausea. LOL.

TwentyFour
12-15-2006, 01:58 AM
Right now I am working on the ending to my novel and found it easier if I make seperate files to seperate things. I have two deaths, a funeral, and a break up, not to mention one is being carted off to jail...so I have some lose ends to tie. I am making them all seperate, naming each something different...going to put them in order once I get everything I need. It makes it easier now that I can put them all in place.

farfromfearless
12-15-2006, 02:33 AM
It sounds as if it's not a writing issue, nor procrastination. I'm not a psychologist (Gods forbid I psychoanalyze anyone), but it sounds as if you are either afraid of finishing for one reason or another, or you are not committed to finishing. It sounds as if you have a history of this, and that is what makes me think it is not a writing issue at all.

BottomlessCup
12-15-2006, 02:48 AM
It is right and good to have trouble with an ending.

Endings are the one part of a work that must be satisfying. The rest of it can delay satisfaction to build anticipation and interest. But the ending has to deliver the goods. All of them. Of course it's tough!

When I'm writing, I like to write myself into a corner. It's a goal. If it takes me two months to figure out what happens next, the audience surely won't see it coming.

Freckles
12-15-2006, 05:34 AM
Endings are deceivingly hard. For me, it helps if I write everything but the end, let it sit for a few days or a week, and then go back to it with a fresh set of eyes...

glassquill
12-15-2006, 06:28 AM
Goody, more comments to respond to. :)

Kate, I think that is an interesting way of approaching the problem. Thanks for sharing it. I can't write short stories though. I find the word limitations a bit too confining.

Rugcat, that's very true. I've read a number of books where the ending had me thinking 'That was it?' and feel cheated having to wade through almost the whole book for that. Hmmm, maybe that's the source of my problem?

Celia, thanks for another different perspective. Would you mind if I print out that quote and stick it on my wall? :)

Dclary, I know I said I'd do almost anything to get a proper ending. Please note the word 'almost'. Losing my breakfast/lunch/tea/dinner is not part of the bargain. :D

SouthernWriter, thanks for sharing your personal methods of dealing with the problem. *eyes her overflowing desk drawers* Umm, do you really think I need more files?

Farfromfearless, it's true I have a history of not writing endings. One of my teachers used to say 'You write well - if only you'd finish what you write'. I can't even write an ending for a science report. :tongue Never thought it might a problem with my mind.

BottomlessCup, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I try not to write myself into corners too much, at least not those that would require PeeDee's 'It was just a dream' (or worse) to get out of.

Freckles, maybe you hit the nail on the head. I need a fresh pair of eyes. :D Igor, could you run down to the basement and pick out a nice fresh pair of eyes for me? The ones I have on right now are getting moldy.

Celia Cyanide
12-15-2006, 08:19 PM
Celia, thanks for another different perspective. Would you mind if I print out that quote and stick it on my wall? :)

That would be splendid. I have but one suggestion. Be sure to attribute that quote to the appropriate person. His name is David Housewright. He is a myster writer. See below:

http://www.amazon.com/Pretty-Girl-McKenzie-Mysteries-Hardcover/dp/0312348290/sr=1-1/qid=1166199367/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-9384540-0034009?ie=UTF8&s=books

glassquill
12-18-2006, 10:27 AM
Thanks, Celia. I'll be sure to do that. After all, we do know that stealing is very, very bad. Credit must be given where credit is due. :D

ebrillblaiddes
12-18-2006, 01:49 PM
*knowing nod*
My aunt writes stories so that she can find out what happens next in them, then gets close enough to the end that she knows what it's going to be, and "gets bored," so I can't think of the last time she actually finished something. I don't know if this is your situation or not, but...it seems to me like she's afraid to finish because it might actually be good, if that makes any sense.

I'm a trouble-with-middles person; I write to H and know what R and S and U and WXYZ are gonna be, and maybe I kind of have an idea about N, but darned if I can figure out I, J, K, or any of those other letters. My endings might be crap, but they get written and then I get to revise. But everything after the beginning--keeping all the subplots and characters pulled together so that I don't realize at the end that I have no idea what a character's been doing all along, that's hard! (Part of it, in my case, is cruddy planning; this project got ahead of me, if that makes sense.) I hate to say it, but the classic suggestion about skipping around and writing the ending first or whatever--that didn't help me at all. In fact, I think it might've actually hurt me when I started doing that, because I could always skip around to something else so I lost the pressure to write the hard stuff and nothing got done. Anyway, now I've gotta take the pieces and try to string them back together, because I still like this project and still think that it has potential (and it must be five and a half years, if not quite actually six which it could be, since I first started it, though it was going to be a short story at the time...but I ramble.)

janetbellinger
12-18-2006, 05:07 PM
Endings aren't hard for me. It's the middle that I have problems with the most.


Now halfway through my WIP, I've come to realise I have a problem. I wouldn't mind it so much if it was a 'once in a blue moon' thing, but it looks as though it's something that has been following me around all these years.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that I can't write endings. The reason is not because I write really bad endings (I'd be happy if I could manage even that much). Even when I was in school, I never finished any of my essays.

I might take some time to get started, but once I've got the first sentence down, I don't have a problem with the flow but when it approaches the end, I start beating around the bushes and doing anything except writing 'The End' on the essay or story.

I often have a clear idea of how I want the story to end, but it's getting there that's proving to be a real problem. I've tried outlining, but no joy there.

I'd really appreciate any comments or suggestions that could help me before I run into a Writer's Wall (again).

Cath
12-18-2006, 05:15 PM
OK, taking a slightly different approach - do you ever think what you're trying to say in your book? Is there a definite point of arrival where the protagonist goes through a transformation and emerges the other side?

If so, you should be able to break your story down into steps which contribute to that development and transformation. Then your ending might become clearer. It's a rather cerebral approach, but it might be a different way of approaching the problem.

If not, it might be useful to think of the story in those terms. It might work for you, it might not, but it's just an idea.

Tracy
12-18-2006, 05:42 PM
Are you planning to submit your manuscript to agents/publishers when it's finished? If so, you're risking rejection, and your subconscious knows that, and may well be sabotaging you from finishing so you don't have to risk that. I've written a free report on how to solve this problem using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It's available from the link below, and it's very powerful information. I absolutely recommend it (well, I would, wouldn't I?!! I use EFT in my writing all the time.)

VGrossack
12-18-2006, 06:51 PM
Hi glassquill -

A couple of ideas. First, do you have trouble finishing other types of projects? If that's the case, then the ending of your manuscript may be part of the rest of you. If you resolve that, then you may be able to write the endings of your manuscripts.

Another suggestion: consider writing the ending first - or before you get there. I often write out of sequence, and having these resolutions in mind helps direct the rest of the story.

Hope these ideas help!

Victoria Grossack
www.tapestryofbronze.com

Bufty
12-18-2006, 07:12 PM
Off topic, I know, but where do these little tidbits at the end of posts come from - is there some omnipotent Overseer somewhere adding these?


Bottomless Cup - Gets to use one exclamation point per post. Can't start any sentences with "And." Should have at least one five-sentence paragraph per post. Can't use colons.

Higgins
12-18-2006, 07:52 PM
It is right and good to have trouble with an ending.

Endings are the one part of a work that must be satisfying. The rest of it can delay satisfaction to build anticipation and interest. But the ending has to deliver the goods. All of them. Of course it's tough!

When I'm writing, I like to write myself into a corner. It's a goal. If it takes me two months to figure out what happens next, the audience surely won't see it coming.

So true...

And there's the writing yourself into multiple corners approach: the end is fixed and you have to get there...I'm 93% there and I'm still not sure what comes JUST BEFORE THE END.

Cath
12-18-2006, 10:38 PM
Off topic, I know, but where do these little tidbits at the end of posts come from - is there some omnipotent Overseer somewhere adding these?

Oh boy, this is going to take some explaining.

There's an experiment going on.

Leastwise, they're calling it an experiment. You can find out more in the Current Events and Political Theory (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=122)forum and check out these two threads:


A Completely Unscientific Experiment (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48839).
Peanut Gallery for Writing Style Experiment (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48946)

Hope that helps!

(Phew, think I managed it) </off topic post>

OK - carry on.

glassquill
12-19-2006, 06:03 AM
ebrillblaiddes, I know what you mean. Maybe there are times when we worry that the ending wouldn't be what we expected (be it in a good way or a bad way). Good luck with your work.

Cath, thanks a lot for the suggestion. Yes, there is a definite end in sight in my work. The only problem I seem to have is getting there. :tongue P.S. Those look like interesting links. I shall have to check it out when I have time to spare.

Janet, middles have never been a problem for me. They might need major surgery during the editing phase but that's a different pot of chowder. :D

Tracy, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Can't say that I've looked at it from that angle before. Your suggestion is certainly worth looking into.

VGrossack, yes, that problem does crop up regardless of what I write. Thanks for sharing. I shall definately keep your suggestions in mind.

Sokal, thanks for sharing your thoughts. The only closest I ever got to writing the ending first is the very last sentence. Not too helpful really.