Finish Something

Announcement
The Philadelphia Free Writers Association and PhillyWriMos are partnering to offer four FREE writer classes during the month of October. Every Saturday from the 1st to the 22nd, there is a seminar event being held at the Walnut Street West Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

I’ll be hosting on October 8th and October 22nd. Check the event links below for more info.
PhillyWriMos Events on Facebook

 

It could be a short story or novella. Maybe it’s a four book saga. Perhaps you favor writing epic poems. Just get the darn thing done.

Knowing how to leave things off, what parts of the story structure need to culminate together, and how to say “the end” is not something that comes naturally to all writers. Learning how to finish something can be a lesson with a steep learning curve. Achieving it once means it will get a little easier in the future, but there’s no guarantee that the next time, nor the time after that, will be a walk in the park.

Before you go too far down the “I want to be a writer” or “I think I’m a writer” path, this is one of the biggest questions you need to ask yourself: Can you finish something?

Novels these days average between sixty-thousand and ninety-thousand words. 60k-90k. That’s not to say that all stories can or should be told in such a concrete wordcount, but debut books especially need to be somewhere in that ballpark. Whether it be readers or agents and publishers, there’s a burden for authors to justify how long someone will spend reading to get to the end.

The end is where the climax happens, which is the emotional peak that readers desperately want after beginning a story. For new or new-ish authors, you have to build trust with your audience that the ending of your stories will contain the payoff readers have been hoping for. And writing an ending that is emotionally satisfying takes practice.

The best way to hone that skill is to write more endings. Short stories can serve as a decent trial ground because they tend to be quick, both for the author and for readers who can give feedback. Novellas, novelettes, and the like could also fit the criteria since the general idea is to have a chance to write “the end” more times.

Writing more endings will allow an author more opportunities to gain experience weaving together emotional arcs and narrative arcs. Endings sometimes get lost to new writers because their plot and their character arcs diverge from one another too much during the course of a story. You need to be able to wrap both up simultaneously in order to put that final period on the page.

So get practicing.

Are you a writer who finds it easy to write endings? What tips or advice would you offer to writers who struggle with them? Have you ever found yourself more than a hundred-thousand words into a story without knowing where it will end? Do you think it’s easier to write stories when you have an ending in mind? The comments are always open.

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