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Beginning at the destination

oldegrump

I was just reading a story by FantsyWriter about an author. The comment was made that this author knew where he wanted the story to go, but not how to get there in a believable fashion.

That describes my stories to a tee. I start with a destination and try to get there. Not always successfully.

Do most of you write that way?

Banadin
Updated:

No idea where it is going within each chapter much less an end goal.

Replies:   oldegrump
REP

@oldegrump

yes. I hate expending the effort to do an outline for I know I won't follow it; I believe following an outline stifles creativity. I would rather explore new ideas as I write and if they work I keep them. At the end, I review the story and delete what doesn't fit, and sometimes expand on the points that do fit.

oldegrump

The only time I remember failing an English assignment i high school was when I had to turn in an outline. I refused, and explained to the teacher that I would not be able to follow it. I got a F for the outline, but a B+ for the story.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ernest Bywater

I usually have a start and and end with most of the middle in mind before I start to type. However, once I start I often think of changes and extras and have to stop while I work out what to include and what to drop and how to transition between them.

I also often start with a character or situation and then think of how it can go in unusual ways from there. Again I often have transition issues between scenes or actions before I get the story finished.

oldegrump

@Banadin

I tried doing it that way, but it got so convoluted that I did not understand it when I reread it.

I posted the original question, because I wanted to know how others could write their stories so well.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@oldegrump

I posted the original question, because I wanted to know how others could write their stories so well.


Polishing it until it shines is the answer. One current work in practice has had changes to a couple of what were the major middle scenes in order to work in a better approach to the finale set of scenes. By the time a story is finished I've had several versions of each scene formed in my head and only put one or two into the draft beforecleaning up the text.

Replies:   madnige
Switch Blayde

@oldegrump

Do most of you write that way?


Yes, I know the beginning (the inciting incident that sets the story (plot's conflict) in motion) and the ending (the plot's climax).

So I know where it's going to end, but not how it's going to get there.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

So I know where it's going to end, but not how it's going to get there.


Via a long and winding road of letters.

madnige

@Ernest Bywater

Polishing it until it shines is the answer


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiJ9fy1qSFI

awnlee jawking

@oldegrump

I think that says more about the teaching profession than it does about your writing ability :(

AJ

Darian Wolfe

With me it seems every story is written differently. On my current work I became fascinated with another author's characters and then started playing what if. I then wrote a beginning scene then a crucial scene and started filling in the blanks. Then I created an outline. I work on individuals scenes as I will. This morning I was writing a scene backwards from finish towards the beginning. So there you go.

awnlee jawking

@Darian Wolfe

This morning I was writing a scene backwards from finish towards the beginning. So there you go.


That's a good way of ensuring you mention all the shotguns above their mantlepieces in a timely manner ;)

AJ

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@awnlee jawking

You got that right. I had already completed the major part of the scene, but I had no idea how they had gotten into their predicament and they HAD to get into the predicament in a believable manner to get to the meat of the story. So I started where they were and rewound the clock one action and one sentence at a time to see how it unfolded.

Baltimore Rogers
Updated:

@oldegrump

For short fiction, the end is so close that you can't help but have some idea where it's going. For long fiction, I guess it all depends on whether you see yourself as writing "episodes" or as writing a "novel".

I see myself more as a novelist, I guess. It's not that I don't love episodic fiction: comic books, TV shows, cinematic universes, etc. It's just that I'm not comfortable writing that way.

Banadin, for example, clearly falls into the "episodic" camp, and he's very good at it.

The thing that annoys me (and is a very minor annoyance), is when long fiction that is CLEARLY intended to have a story arc, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, instead gets bogged down in episode after never-ending episode, until even the writer seems to get tired of writing it.

Truly episodic works, like the "Richard Jackson" saga, "Three Square Meals", "Second Chance", should probably never end as long as the authors can come up with fresh ideas.

However, there are other truly excellent ongoing works out there, "The Rise of Azkoval", "Too Much Love", "Mayhem in a Pill", that could probably benefit from the author just moving the plot forward toward the conclusion.

Actually, I may be wrong about "Too Much Love". It could actually just be a series of episodes in a soap opera. Truly amazing gem-like episodes, but ultimately not really going anywhere final. That would be okay too.

oldegrump

Thank you all for the responses. I have only been publishing for 2 years, but I have been writing for more than 50 years. I normally do short stories because I tend to ramble on long ones.

Dominions Son

@Baltimore Rogers

It could actually just be a series of episodes in a soap opera.


If Hustler magazine had it's own cable channel and wanted to do a soap opera. :)

Crumbly Writer

Like Ernest and Switch (and most others who only post completed stories), I write towards the ending, but with no outline.

Since most stories start with a significant crisis in someone's life, you mostly start there (showing their normal life, and then what changes to throw them into turmoil.

I then create a few 'way points' (points where the story arc changes) and then imagine the ending. However, none of those are definite. I don't know what chapter they'll occur in, or even how the conclusion plays out, but I fashion it so it ends the ongoing conflict, resolves the story arc and ends on a more-or-less happy spot (Note: Many of my stories end with the protagonist sacrificing themselves for their objective, but those he leaves behind end up satisfied, though disappointed).

The problem often boils down to those who write 'day-in-the-life' stories, where each day represents whatever might happen to someone that day, while the others write 'episodic' chapters, where each chapters specifically does something to move the story forward.

If you write to a known ending, you know how to prepare the reader, and knowing the way points you'll understand how the story evolves over the course of the book/series. But if you just start writing, you never know what happens next, and most importantly, you often end up with no satisfactory conclusion, just a long, often tedious story that meanders without ever arriving anywhere.

The other issue is, the episodic writers often write the entire first draft out, and then double back to see what they need to modify based on how the entire story unfolds. Thus any threads which don't play out and you'd hoped get cut. And scenes which don't advance the plot get pruned, and any characters which don't … you get the idea.

That way, the story becomes more tightly focused, easier to read and (hopefully) faster paced. You can also add foreshadowing (so readers know what's at stake) and red-herrings (so they never know quite what's going to happen).

Crumbly Writer

@Baltimore Rogers

For short fiction, the end is so close that you can't help but have some idea where it's going. For long fiction, I guess it all depends on whether you see yourself as writing "episodes" or as writing a "novel".

I see myself more as a novelist, I guess. It's not that I don't love episodic fiction: comic books, TV shows, cinematic universes, etc. It's just that I'm not comfortable writing that way.

I think you're confusing 'episodic' with 'never-ending serials', as they do contain 'episodes' (typically of the good guy romancing a new girl, or the Sheriff tracking down yet another bad guy), but the episodes don't advance the story, they just are.

Most Novels are episodic, but where literary fiction branches off is often in either the descriptions or the focus (individual relationships and how they evolve over time, rather than what someone does from one chapter to the next).

But the key to any successful story is going at it with a hacksaw, and cutting off anything which doesn't help the story, and then polishing it up so everything flows smoothly, and there aren't any rough edges which either throw the reader, or put them to sleep.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

and then polishing it up


Move the action to Poland, lots of Polish there.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@richardshagrin

Move the action to Poland, lots of Polish there.


I wouldn't touch that comment with a 10 foot pole.
Or two five foot Czechs.
Maybe 3 3 1/3 feet Lithuanians.

drgnmstr

It has been a long time since I have written anything. I wrote on another site under the name johnstr. I usually started with a vague idea and found that the characters took over where the story went. I was often surprised at where it wound up.
Sometimes you have to go with what feels good. I stopped writing when I retired. I read so many stories that I am afraid if I wrote now I might risk plagiarism. Now I just marvel at the amazing talent out there and despair at the decline of the educational system.

Uther_Pendragon

@Darian Wolfe

With me it seems every story is written differently. On my current work I became fascinated with another author's characters and then started playing what if. I then wrote a beginning scene then a crucial scene and started filling in the blanks. Then I created an outline. I work on individuals scenes as I will. This morning I was writing a scene backwards from finish towards the beginning. So there you go.


Me too.

I sometimes have the entire story in mind; I sometimes get characters together and then see where it goes. I have a story written but not proofed in which I started with the end clear in every detail -- which sort of determined the beginning, too.

I've started stories with 2 interesting characters and then abandoned them because I decided that those 2 would never get together.

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
DerAndy

I usually have a rough idea how I want to start the story, how it will progress and how it ends. Then I start writing, and the story gets away from me because the characters just don't do what I thought they would do.

Heck, the last story I posted here was supposed to be a short thing of 20 to 30 KB or so. Then things happened in the story and it ended up being 160 KB...

booksnmusic

I'd would say it's like playing a hole of golf. I know where the hole is when I start at the tee. I try to get there, but often find myself in the woods or a sand trap. I eventually get to the green, but not always in the hole.

Yeah, I start with the end in mind and some idea how to get there. But the darn characters always have their own ideas about where to go and how.

Darian Wolfe

@Uther_Pendragon

I hear you, I try not to abandon a character though. I save them and put them somewhere else in another story. Writing has been different since my last hiatus. Then my characters would discuss the story with me and actually tell me what they would and wouldn't do.

I was slightly mad (in the old sense of the word) due to the level of pain I was experiencing and the medication I was on. I have to admit though the world is much more interesting when it's "bendy". Now, it's much more pedestrian. I appreciate the lack of pain tremendously, but I miss the creativity the pain unlocked before it flooded it out. Now, my writing seems more like deliberate story creation than peaking into someone's life.

Uther_Pendragon

@Darian Wolfe

I try not to abandon a character though. I save them and put them somewhere else in another story. Writing has been different since my last hiatus. Then my characters would discuss the story with me and actually tell me what they would and wouldn't do.


Yeah. I've been known to recycle some published stuff, but the stuff you kill really fills the quiver for the next shot. Characters, location, events, dialogue, it's all ready in your head to be used again.

Uther_Pendragon

@Darian Wolfe

I try not to abandon a character though. I save them and put them somewhere else in another story. Writing has been different since my last hiatus. Then my characters would discuss the story with me and actually tell me what they would and wouldn't do.


Yeah. I've been known to recycle some published stuff, but the stuff you kill really fills the quiver for the next shot. Characters, location, events, dialogue, it's all ready in your head to be used again.

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