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Dragging the End (1 Viewer)

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Riptide

WF Veterans
Okay, here I am, dragging out the end of my story. At the end of most of my stories, before the grand finale battle, the characters drag getting there. The MC is accepting of the doom and gloom, the inevitable sacrifice they'll have to make, while the other characters have no side plot left. All their interactions are either filler or about the impending battle, and literally any more talking about that is like hitting a dead horse. I've literally squeezed out most of their side plots and there's nothing left but their presence now, and a worry about their possible death.

I'm wondering if you guys do this, and if you do, how do you get out of it? Me, I write slow. Like, excruciatingly slow because I don't want to jump into a rabbit hole of small-talk and hold-ups.

How do you tackle your ending?
 

Crooked Bird

Senior Member
Well, you will be able to tighten it in revision, so at least there's that! The main thing is to get there.

I haven't dealt with this exact problem (i.e. with the climax) but when I start writing a bunch of filler it's because I'm blocked in some way. Either 1) I don't know where I'm going from here as well as I thought I did or 2) I'm secretly scared of where I'm going and I want to delay it. (Incidentally, I rarely see people talking about the emotional pain of writing, but it can be real. Especially when you go deep on an issue that's a live one for you.) I either just plow through it (creating masses of verbiage to later mine the jewels out of and burn the rest) or, if it really feels like I'm going the wrong way, I step back and analyze. Having learned some plot structuring methods helps with that.
 

druid12000

Senior Member
Could it be you don't want to see it end? What I mean is, you have invested so much time, energy, and pieces of yourself in the project that it almost seems like a part of you will be ending.

I get that feeling too. It's like watching a great movie in my mind that I want to keep playing forever.
 

thepancreas11

New Writers' Mentor
WF Veterans
I used to do this weird thing where I felt like my story wasn't long enough for the format I was aiming for. Sometimes I still do this with chapters: I have a certain length I want, and if it's not there yet, I try to beef it up. It's a very bad habit. But thankfully...

Well, you will be able to tighten it in revision, so at least there's that! The main thing is to get there.

This is so right. Almost all of that material is either unnecessary or could be tightened up in one way or another. I would focus on that in the revision, not in the first run through. Just get it down. You can take a sword to it later.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I used to do this weird thing where I felt like my story wasn't long enough for the format I was aiming for. Sometimes I still do this with chapters: I have a certain length I want, and if it's not there yet, I try to beef it up. It's a very bad habit. But thankfully...

This is so right. Almost all of that material is either unnecessary or could be tightened up in one way or another. I would focus on that in the revision, not in the first run through. Just get it down. You can take a sword to it later.

Okay, here I am, dragging out the end of my story. At the end of most of my stories, before the grand finale battle, the characters drag getting there. The MC is accepting of the doom and gloom, the inevitable sacrifice they'll have to make, while the other characters have no side plot left. All their interactions are either filler or about the impending battle, and literally any more talking about that is like hitting a dead horse. I've literally squeezed out most of their side plots and there's nothing left but their presence now, and a worry about their possible death.

I'm wondering if you guys do this, and if you do, how do you get out of it? Me, I write slow. Like, excruciatingly slow because I don't want to jump into a rabbit hole of small-talk and hold-ups.

How do you tackle your ending?

No material is unnecessary if it's fun and interesting to read. In a 100K novel, 80% is filler anyway. You could tell the bones of the story in 20K. The rest adds flavor. Do you think when you read about a character's meal or drinks at a bar or miserable experience they have in the rain it's important to the plot? Very rarely, yet every novel has that stuff. Beef it up and fill it all you want, just make that stuff entertaining. Don't by dry and/or repetitive.

I've got to say that I generally cut my endings down a bit, and possibly I should look at that habit of my own. When I hit my word count, I start wondering how much the other stuff I could include really adds to the story, and if it's not essential to closure and making sure the reader understands the ending, I don't write it. I also keep a bit of story in reserve for the next in series. ;-)
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
If I understand you correctly, it sounds like you are talking about the part right before your climax? If so, I think I can totally relate to that. I just finished the first draft of my WIP and even though I knew exactly what I was planning to write for the climax, the part before that felt like it took forever. I even wrote an entirely unnecessary scene for some reason I couldn't even justify at the time (and knew it would be revised out or at least significantly reworked to give it more purpose). I just pushed through it, painful as it was and reminded myself I would be improving it later. The actual climax had the revease feeling for me - it went fast (and will definitely need more development in revision).

For me, I'm beginning to think it has something to do with approaching main events. I am encountering the same issue as I've been rewriting the beginning of my WIP the last few days. I am getting ready to write the first big event (that sets off the rest of the story), and as I approach it, I find myself adding content that I can't really justify. I'm writing a whole scene right now that could very well be cut in my next revision.

I think when I approach a bigger event and I haven't given myself other, plot relevant opportunities to reveal elements of my characters that I think need to be apparent by that point of the story, I start getting clunky about how I skip through time in the story. So rather than going from the last plot relevant event into a climactic event X amount of time later, I start writing more moment by moment as the big event approaches. What comes out is a scene that gives some sort of character interaction or information without much plot development (beyond the passage of time). I feel like revision is great for that kind of issue though.
 

Riptide

WF Veterans
It's definitely me delaying the ending. I feel like it was both of these, actually, because a year ago I had come up to the ending and just stopped because I didn't like it. So, instead of finish writing it, I rewrote the entire thing, and I am on the ending again...

But you're write. I can also edit it again. Nothing's ever set in stone, even when you publish it -- @crookedbird

@Cargo I don't know exactly where it'll go after she beats the big bad... but I have a pretty solid ending, I think.

@Druid definitely my problem. Invested a lot of time and effort and there's just more time and effort left to invest.

@Pancreas Me too! Thinking a chapter or a story NEEDS to be this length. Terrible feeling, sometimes.

@vanger I actually wrote a story for a creative writing class where I added something that wasn't necessary, I just wanted to write this piece out, and the student. were crossed on if they liked it or not. It's narrow line of being entertaining and just being there, I think

@Ajoy A whole scene? Damn, I'd hate doing that. i get really attached to my writing
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
@vanger I actually wrote a story for a creative writing class where I added something that wasn't necessary, I just wanted to write this piece out, and the student. were crossed on if they liked it or not. It's narrow line of being entertaining and just being there, I think

I don't think it's a narrow line at all. Most people have heard the old saw that a great actor can read the phone book and make it entertaining. A great writer can write about buttering a piece of toast and make it entertaining. That's what we're shooting for. EVERY novel has filler. What we have to do as writers is make that filler every bit as meaningful and entertaining as the main plot line. It's entertaining or it's not. That's not a narrow line ... that's a pretty wide gulf.

I read writers whose filler can keep me entertained for pages, and writers whose main plot line puts me to sleep. We've all been there. "To skip pages or to not skip pages? That is the question."

Ever see the film Camelot? The last scene is Arthur in grief over the loss of the life he loved. He recaps the story. He's on the verge of a battle, but we never get to the battle. It's a scene that would literally be filler material in most stories. Nothing new happens, but he decides he won't be forgotten. The movie ends and leaves the battle result unknown. If you can watch the movie and not be shedding tears at the end of that scene, there's something wrong with you. LOL Great writing.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
@Ajoy A whole scene? Damn, I'd hate doing that. i get really attached to my writing

I think sometimes I just have to write out interactions or events that will inevitably be shown in another way...just to process them.

Plus, I quite enjoy the revision process. :)
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
When in doubt, in the absence of anything else to do, my characters will have either an argument or sex. Sex is straightforward reader-candy. The argument/fight can be any small trifle, but really it's the stress of the battle, their impending deaths getting to them. Sure, it doesn't really change the outcome or the story. Of course it's just me twiddling mood knobs and crossfading and mixing the pace. I do also find it a quite useful dumping ground for revisiting any popup characters that occurred earlier never to be seen again, or sorting out some minor unresolved plot strand, or for thematic deep(-ish) dives. And you know, there's totally scope for light, comedic moments in the hours before battle too. Got an off-colour joke that you really want the world to hear but daren't air in company? Put it there, and if everyone hates it, you can blame the character who made it, or the situation they're in, whilst praising you as a "fearless" and "compelling" author for your realistic depictions of battle;)
 
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Ajoy

Senior Member
When in doubt, in the absence of anything else to do, my characters will have either an argument or sex. Sex is straightforward reader-candy. The argument/fight can be any small trifle, but really it's the stress of the battle, their impending deaths getting to them. Sure, it doesn't really change the outcome or the story. Of course it's just me twiddling mood knobs and crossfading and mixing the pace. I do also find it a quite useful dumping ground for revisiting any popup characters that occurred earlier never to be seen again, or sorting out some minor unresolved plot strand, or for thematic deep(-ish) dives. And you know, there's totally scope for light, comedic moments in the hours before battle too. Got an off-colour joke that you really want the world to hear but daren't air in company? Put it there, and if everyone hates it, you can blame the character who made it, or the situation they're in, whilst praising you as a "fearless" and "compelling" author for your realistic depictions of battle;)

I find this so relatable because I literally just did that in the first draft of my WIP. I brought in some new characters and they just disappeared from the story. Oops. :) The extra scene I wrote right before the climax is exactly where I need to make their appearance feel grounded in the story. And, as you said, it's a good place to resolve a side plot, which I needed to do. I find it funny though...I knew of the specific issues I had to resolve, I knew I was writing an almost empty scene before the climax....I just didn't' put those two things together until after I finished.
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
Usually I have an ending in mind before I start.

Same here. I only find the ending of a story somewhat problematic mainly because I don't want to stop writing it and move on to
something else. Still, I think that I end up putting more thought into the ending above all else, because I don't want the reader
to be let down.

Also, wouldn't want the characters to be sent off in a half-assed way (unless the story is in one of my series, and the arcs lead into
the next installment). If the ending doesn't seem as good as it could be, I'll go back and tweak the plot elements and/or character
elements at various points of the story so everything makes sense.

-JJB
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
Are you me?
There is an ending that I always have in mind when putting something together. The original Italian Job. I haven't used anything like it, yet. but it is there haunting my process.
Same here. I only find the ending of a story somewhat problematic mainly because I don't want to stop writing it and move on to
something else. Still, I think that I end up putting more thought into the ending above all else, because I don't want the reader
to be let down.

Also, wouldn't want the characters to be sent off in a half-assed way (unless the story is in one of my series, and the arcs lead into
the next installment). If the ending doesn't seem as good as it could be, I'll go back and tweak the plot elements and/or character
elements at various points of the story so everything makes sense.

-JJB
 
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