October 25th, 2015

BrainUnderRepair
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Writing Excuses 10.42: How in the World Do I Tie All This Together?

Writing Excuses 10.42: How in the World Do I Tie All This Together?

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/10/18/writing-excuses-10-42-how-in-the-world-do-i-tie-all-this-together/

 Key points: Don't judge a story by its length. Symptoms first -- this ending isn't working, my story is sick! -- then diagnosis -- why isn't this ending satisfying? -- and treatment, find a fix. A common problem is unfulfilled promises. Use the MICE quotient and the Hollywood Formula to get the story started right, and then you know what you need to end with, too. Also, you may be resolving things in the wrong sequence. Make sure you get your nesting right! Beware the Brandon avalanche -- don't overlap too many resolutions in one massive twist. One great plot moment and one great character moment, fine. Three character moments for the same character... people get lost. Sometimes the character should get what they need, not what they want. Look for key elements in your story and tie those up in your ending. Don't try to tie up everything! Do try to find out what beta readers think will be satisfying -- what questions are asked, what promises are made, what did they get so far out of the story? Sometimes you need to wrap a thread up, sometimes you need to de-emphasize something. Sad, unhappy endings, where characters die -- make sure people know terrible things may happen, and give them a glimmer of success or hope even in the midst of tragedy. Heroes need to earn happy endings, and tragic endings. Did the character bring the tragedy down on themselves for some reason, or is there at least a glimmer of hope that things might work out? Foreshadow the possibility of a terrible ending, perhaps use the emotional arc of a character? Consider the setting for the sad event -- is it at a low point in the story, or is it part of a stand-up-and-cheer moment? Last word: fiction is oddly moral, we want it to make sense, people need to earn what happens to them. Life is random, but fiction has to make sense.
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[Brandon] We're actually going to have Mary give us a writing prompt... Or homework.
[Mary] Right. So your homework is to take a look at the last paragraph of your work in progress, whether that's a novel or a short story, and the first paragraph. Look to see if there are resonances from the first paragraph that you can build into the last paragraph. These are the key moments that Nalo was talking about, questions that we may have answered, images that are powerful. That you can build them in, in the reverse order in which you introduced them. Or, if you have a powerful image in your closing paragraph, see if there is a place you can put it back into your opening, so that you have that resonance for the audience.
[Brandon] Excellent. Well, this has been Writing Excuses at sea. You're out of excuses, now go write.
[Whoo! Applause]
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