1. badgerjelly
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    badgerjelly Member

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    Do you know your ending?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by badgerjelly, Aug 19, 2013.

    I have heard that most authors tend to plan out and structure there entire novel before they even set pen to paper and was wondering how true this actually is?

    I myself would never write anything if I knew what was going to happen in my stories. I have certain scenes set in my head and running themes but other than that I could not imagine writing fiction any other way.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I had no idea how I would end my story until I was over halfway there. I knew what I wanted tell in the story, but how to tell it left the ending uncertain for a while.

    Now I have a more clear idea where it will end, but since I'm writing the first book in a duology, there are some details I've not yet decided on. Exactly where to leave this book off and start the next one is flexible to some degree.
     
  3. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Depends on the writer. Some writers are "pantsers", meaning they don't plan at all, and others plan absolutely everything. I'm sort of in-between; I plan, but not at all thoroughly. I know where the characters are going to end up, but not at all how they are going to get there.

    I think for some the creativity lies in the planning, and for others in the writing itself. Which group you fall into is entirely up to you and your mind!
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm like Thomas Kitchen, although I like to know my ending before I get there. I've found knowing your ending is crucial to knowing which direction to take your book and which parts should be expanded/removed etc - it helps, like a puzzle where you put together all the edges first. Knowing the ending is a little like this - it gives you a framework to work within, which is essential to ensuring you end up scrapping as few scenes as possible. You still scrap a heck of a lot, but I'll bet you scrap a lot less.

    However, this could prove to be detrimental when you get your own ending wrong, like I did...... What happens then is, your rewrite is essentially a different story you're writing from scratch.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I usually never have an ending in mind. That's probably why I don't finish very many stories. :(
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm basically a pantser - I start with a character in a situation, and almost nothing else. Usually I try to come up with a "provisional" ending, so I have some idea of the direction I want to go, but the provisional ending almost never winds up as the real one. The real ending comes to me as I get to know the character and his arc more - the story forms the character to some extent, after all, and what he becomes as I write determines what decisions he'll make as the story progresses. He'll reveal the ending to me when it's time, I reckon.

    P.S. I don't want this to sound all mystical and everything, like a fictional character is actually making his own decisions and I'm just chasing around behind him like an idiot, writing down what he does. I am, of course, fully in control of the character and the story. I just find this a useful metaphor for thinking about the process.
     
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  7. alexandriadeloraine
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    alexandriadeloraine Member

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    Do I know the endings of my stories?

    Yes, pretty much always. But you know what they say, the end of one adventure can mark the beginning of another.
    My most extensive work originally comprised a trilogy of novels, but in the course of writing the trilogy I have found
    myself developing three additional, standalone novels that take place in the same world but follow a different cast.

    Anyway, to me the ending of a story represents one of the primary pillars of support for the whole work, so while I
    may not have all the precise details and words picked out for the conclusion / end of the story, I do know what major
    events occur and what the general tone will be. I know what I'm building toward in the rest of the story, if that makes
    sense. :) Knowing the ending vs. planning your whole work are distinctly different in my eye, though.

    Cheers;

    - Alexandria de Loraine
     
  8. The Peanut Monster
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    The Peanut Monster Senior Member

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    This. I started out as an outlined, but more often than not, it seems I end up changing even those points. My world, and the big ideas and themes don't seem to change too much, and the basic ideas stay intact, but it's all good fun exploring with my characters...
     
  9. Terralala
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    Terralala Member

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    I had no idea what my ending was when I started. I didn't do any real planning and still haven't however I do have a general idea for the ending of my story now.
     
  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always know how my stories end - just as soon as I finish them.
     
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  11. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Actually I'm just finishing up the first draft of a novel now (Wildling), and 92k in and just working on the final battle chapters I finally discovered who the bad guy was and how it would end!

    I could take panstering to a new level!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Most of the time the ending I plan never quite makes it in the final draft. Right now my mc dies. That was in the first and second draft. I'm not particularly crazy about the ending but it suits the story. However, the story has had some major overhauls so who knows - I'm playing it by ear.
     
  13. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I pretty much always have an ending in mind when I start writing - it's just not always the one I eventually reach.
     
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  14. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Being a pantser seems like it would increase the probability of receiving wedgies.

    Be that as it may, I usually have a vague idea of a story line and then let it develop as I add details.
     
  15. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    No way did I know my ending when I started. It's like a guy once said though. "Beginning with the end in mind does not mean beginning with the end in stone."
    You can always change it.
     
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  16. CyberFD
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    CyberFD Member

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    I knew how I would end the first part of my trilogy, but the overall ending didn't come to me until I was 130 pages into the first book. The second book's ending is also still a mystery...
     
  17. AlexanderB
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    AlexanderB New Member

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    I've tried to keep an ending in mind during my last few book attempts, but the problem is sticking to that ending. While I tend to use loose outlines to plan my books, the story and the characters always grow beyond those outlines, making it hard to adhere to my original intentions. An ending that used to fit might no longer, or a character I thought would be a one-off might end up sticking around for the entire book.
     
  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I usually do know the ending when I start writing. What is harder for me is crafting the beginning. My natural self wants to start a story with the equivalent of "I was born, and then I went to school..." which is NOT the right thing to do!
     
  19. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I started writing I wrote blindly, just with a loose idea and a character, maybe a situation. However, over the years, it's become apparent it's impossible to produce a quality novel-length manuscript without some degree of planning.

    Writing a book is hard, planning is also hard, but it has to be, in order to organise one's mind around that much information, and put it all together well enough for someone to actually enjoy reading it. So, I think some kind of a synopsis is essential, it doesn't have to be creative, just a bare skeleton guarantees me a good storyline and plot, as well as help make sure I'm writing towards an ending, not blindly stumbling around an ever-changing idea in my head.

    Creativity is essential for writing, and if I planned an inquest scene in Chapter 3, where my character will lie, use another and then have an unnerving conversation, I still have plenty of scope to be creative, without getting derailed. I'm a lazy writer, I like to get the job done in minimum amount of time. Extensive and complete re-writes, because I free-associated myself into a corner that makes no sense and is full of holes, is a waste of time imo.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
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  20. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Since me and my hubbie write together, we have two brains working on one story, which helps with planning. We usually have some idea of the beginning and the end, but not always. Often, before a chapter, we plan what happens in that chapter, then write it out. Like jazzabel said, if it's a novel and especially if the plot is complex, it has to be planned out in more detail beforehand, though we improv stuff quite a lot too. We have done this more lately, while when we started writing together a few years ago, we often made it up as we went along and had no idea of the end result either.
     
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  21. badgerjelly
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    badgerjelly Member

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    I do remember hearing somewhere that Agatha Christie never knew "who done it?" until the end of her novels.
     
  22. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    As always, what works for one won't work for another. The only story I planned I never finished.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it may be true among all who write novels... as for successfully published ones, i'd have to see reliable stats to see if 'most' really applies...

    I don't plan out fiction, but have occasionally had some idea of how some of the stories would end... with others, i simply start writing with a plot idea in mind and see where the story takes itself...
     
  24. EmmaWrite
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    EmmaWrite Member

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    I almost always know the ending to my stories before I write them. I like to know where I'm heading and the general structure of my stories.
     
  25. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    Sometimes i do other times i don't

    for example i am currently working on a detective story and i have no idea how i want to end it.

    I am also working on a brother and a sister story and i have no idea how i am going to end that one either
     

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