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Finishing a novel...

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Old 10-06-2008, 07:11 AM
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Default Finishing a novel...


I know I have lots of trouble finishing novels... in fact, I've started three over the last year, only two of which are still being worked on... slowly worked on, I might add.

I've been scouring the net looking for advice on finishing novels, and have in fact discovered that lots of people have the same trouble. So, whilst I was getting disheartened thinking that I'm no real writer because I can't even finish a novel, it turns out there were thousands of others thinking exactly the same thing.

One method I found that was very interesting, thanks Holly, is called Candy Bars - sounds strange, I know - which actually has spurred me to keep on writing. Basically, a Candy Bar is a point in your story that you can't wait to write, and the Candy Bar method encourages you to write five or six of these scenes, and then fill in the space between them. So, when you were reading the big revealing chapter at the end of a mystery novel and you thought "how the hell did the author pull that off so smoothly" that was probably the Candy Bar method at work.


Anybody else have any clever methods like this to share?

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Old 10-06-2008, 08:15 AM
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I know, finishing novels is the hardest part. They never want to quit, do they? I use the candy bar method myself, on occasion, though I never knew what it was called. Sort of like dangling a carrot in front of a cart horse. I try to get to the scenes that I'm really stoked about writing, and that helps me quite a bit, especially if I have at least a rough outline of where I want everything to be.

Putting the cart before the horse is what works for me (I love those "horse" metaphors, don't I? I think I'll sprinkle more into this post, just for the heck of it ). What that means is I think long and hard about what my ending should be. Where my characters should be in relation to each other, what their situations should be, how the conflict should be resolved (or unresolved!), and who lives happily ever after and who doesn't. I'm not as stubborn as a mule about the ending though, and it frequently undergoes revision. The best thing is, though, that I know where I have to get my characters and the story before I can wrap things up. For example, my current novel's ending outline would look like this:

I. Ending

A. Characters

1. Get Sydril to the edge of the waste on dragon-back. Draytere flies off, unable to enter that territory. Sydril sets off after Hanni.

2. Hanni is running towards the heart of the Darkseed with Tel'Kur, prepared to counter its long defeat by offering herself and Tel'Kur to the Darkseed.

3. Lord Ingrey (minor character) becomes king after his heroic part in freeing Eblen from the grasp of the false king.

B. Plot
1. Darkseed's tendrils are even more active, and begin to cause inter-country strife. Xenekh invades.

2. Sydril must catch Hanni and Tel'Kur to stop them from giving the darkseed the sacrifice it needs to become strong again, and take her corrupted friends back from the entity's grasp.

C. Setting

1. The waste. Bleak, cold, blasted by the ancient war with the unknown invaders and the Darkseed. Home to creatures unknown, some under Darkseed influence.

And I might go on to be so detailed as to map out emotions, themes, etc. But that's a rough idea of what I do. A novel is like a journey from point A to point B for me, and as long as I know where I have to go, I can get my characters there. You probably couldn't understand what I was talking about in my outline, but that's fine, because you haven't read the novel . I'm just using it as an example, and you only need to pick up on the universal elements.
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Old 10-06-2008, 08:21 AM
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I'm a little different. I have a basic outline of the entire story, not in great detail just the general direction in which the story will go, and I write what could be called a summary for each "Candy Bar" scene. Then I weave what magic I can and bring it all together in my best attempt at entertainment
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Old 10-06-2008, 01:08 PM
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I can sympathize with that side as well. I don't generally have very detailed outlines...I'm more of a seat-of-my pants writer. I get a scene in my mind, then let the words come and interpret the action and setting as they want. I'm also sort of goal-oriented, though, which is why having an ending in mind works well for me.
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Old 10-09-2008, 12:05 PM
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Oddly enough, my main trouble is filling in the details for my stories that lead up to the ending. The ending usually comes a lot sooner than it should.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Perhaps planning the ending out before you even start and building towards it might help.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:29 AM
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Hey Scott,

This is something I haven't experienced,
being that I knew what the ending could
be and allowed my characters to create
the end.

At one point I injected myself and ended
it! It just wasn't smooth, so I jumped back
in and made it happen.

Here's a quote I heard from motivational
speaker Les Brown, "What you think about
becomes the strongest."

As long as continue focus on "not being able
to finish" your novels it will continue to perpetuate
that result.

As you've shared, you have an outline, stick
to it and allow it to finish. You can do it!

Continue to make it happen!

Won't Be Denied,
C.F. Jackson
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Old 10-31-2008, 05:18 AM
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Trying to finish a novel is the worst part about writing a story if you ask me. If a story has a bad ending then people will think it was a waste of time reading the rest.

The most important part is that you need to know what you want to happen, you know how the stories gonna end. The hardest part is putting it on paper (or screen).

Stop thinking it will never happen, because if you think it, you'll believe it.
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:23 PM
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Good advice, Bebe90

Sometimes I write the ending even before I write the beginning and middle -- that way everything else in the story works towards that end. Makes for an easy write, IMO. Openers have always been the hardest part for me.
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Old 11-29-2008, 06:20 PM
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I have the same problem with finishing novels, my current project has taken me over a year, which is generally when I get distracted by my newest, shiniest idea and give up. This time I'm still going strong, though, I don't entirely know why. What I do know is that this time the story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. The story has a strong meaning to me personally, and I'm attached to the characters. I'm pacing myself, instead of writing it all at once and getting burnt out, and in between I'm enjoying other, shorter projects. I'm also reading more, talking to other writers (both on forums and in real life) and in my other projects I'm trying out new genres that I've never done before. I also have new glasses, so I can see the screen, making the physical act of writing more enjoyable.
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Old 12-05-2008, 08:06 PM
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Scott,

Not to parrot OnceUponATime, but I had a writing course in college, and the instructor had us write out 5 endings to different story lines, and the rest of the class fill in the middle and beginning. Kind of like, telephone game, when you were a kid. Our instructor made the point that doing this type of exercise frees you from the normal convention of story-telling, and loosens things up, if you will. Btw, I'm a by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer as well, and I'm going to try your method of outlining. I think that will keep me on point better. - Cheers
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