Tips for writing good story endings

Tips for writing good story endings

Sent by Suzanne Lieurance

Many writers have trouble coming up with the perfect ending for a story.

And the perfect ending is really important because it is often the ending of a story that people remember most.

That’s because a good ending ties everything together and leaves the reader feeling satisfied.

To write good story endings, keep these tips in mind:

1.  A good ending is made possible by having a good beginning and a good middle. 

If you’re having trouble with the ending of your story, go back and look at your beginning and middle. What is the BIG thing your main character is trying to do or solve at the start of the story? Is it clear throughout the story that your character is trying to solve this problem?

Everything in the beginning and middle of your story needs to relate to this problem. When it does, it will be much easier to come up with the perfect ending. If it doesn’t, you won’t be able to create the perfect ending to your story.

Try this: Write down, in one or two sentences, what the main conflict is in your story. If you have trouble doing this, you probably need to get clearer about the main story problem.

2. Your ending should come about because of the actions and events we see in the beginning and the middle of your story.

For example, don’t have some character we’ve never seen before suddenly appear at the end of the story to help the main character solve the problem or solve it for him. This won’t make for a satisfying ending.

If you want to have another character help the main character at the end, we need to see this character in the middle of the story, not just the ending. Also remember that the ending needs to come about because of action or actions the main character did or did not take. Things can’t simply happen to the main character by chance. And someone else can’t simply step in and save the day for your main character. Things need to happen because of actions and decisions the main character makes throughout the story.

3. Make sure you have plenty of conflict (rising action) that leads to the climax and ending of the story.

Endings tend to fall flat if there isn’t plenty of conflict in the middle of the story, with all sorts of decisions and actions the main character faces before he’s able to solve or resolve the overall problem.

4. Good endings evoke some sort of emotion in the reader.

To write endings that do this, start by reading other published stories in the genre you wish to write. See how they ended and how you felt at the ending. Make a few notes about how the authors evoked these emotions. You’ll have to practice writing endings that cause readers to feel emotions, so take your time.

When you have a clear problem that is evident throughout the story, and plenty of conflict throughout the story as the main character tries to solve this problem, it is much easier to create the perfect ending to your story –an ending that evokes emotion from your reader and leaves him feeling satisfied.

So follow these tips until you come up with an ending for your story that is just right!

Try it!

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Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She is a former classroom teacher and was an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature for over 8 years.

Lieurance has written over 30 published books and her articles and stories have appeared in various magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. She offers a variety of coaching programs via private phone calls, teleclasses, listserv, and private email for writers who want to turn their love of writing into a part-time or full-time career at www.workingwriterscoach.com. She is also president and founder of The Working Writer’s Club at www.workingwritersclub.com.

Find Suzanne and her writing in these places:

Working Writers’ Coach — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter

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Who’s afraid of the Big, Blank Page?

Who’s afraid of the Big, Blank Page?

Sent by Angie Noll

Little Red Riding Hood might have been afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, but writers are often terrified of something far more innocuous… a simple piece of white paper (or blank screen).

There have been times in my writing life when crossing paths with Little Red’s wolf would have been preferable to the task of committing words and ideas to the page. I know I’m not the only one.

As new writers, the first thing we often do is make a pit stop at our local stationary store to indulge our inner writer with a basket of lovely writing goodies. Armed with our new, sparkly notebook and special, easy-flow writing pen in hand, we proceed to write up a storm.

Then, one day, we notice how much we’ve written, and we realise, ‘I am a writer!’ And with these four little words, everything changes. The next time we open our notebook, we find ourselves staring at the blank page, unable to write a thing. What happened?

Why is it so often easy, right at the beginning, to fill page after page, but once we become aware that we’re actually writing, that creativity freezes up and the words stop flowing? The same phenomenon happens when we start off writing casually, but once we decide to take it to the next level, we lose the delicious abandon we had before.

The answer lies in our innocence. When we’re still new to the process of writing, we don’t know yet that writing is one of those tasks that we purposefully engage in while simultaneously letting go of any form of control over the process; that it’s a balancing act between control and surrender.

It’s when we try to control the writing process that the blank page turns from a friendly wolf into a snarling beast and, unlike Little Red, (who seemed to lack all common sense), we run away from it, screaming, “I can’t write!”

Before we self-identify as a writer, we’re naturally able to control and surrender in the right proportions – because we have no expectations of ourselves. But once we label ourselves as writers, that natural ability seems to fly out the window as all attention is now myopically focused on controlling the writing process.

So it’s not really the blank page that sends us fleeing from our writing desk. It’s the unspoken series of expectations that we place upon ourselves, as writers, which we now have to live up to. And, we believe, we can only live up to them by painstakingly trying to control the writing process.

Now, suddenly, we are expected to produce something of worth, something that will satisfy everybody who reads it.

Now, suddenly, we expect our story, our article, our blog post, to be flawless from beginning to end.

Now, suddenly, we expect ourselves to churn out new, excellent and perfect writing at every single writing session, because if we don’t, we tell ourselves that we’re not real writers anymore.

With such an impossible list of expectations that we imagine real writers live up to, it’s no wonder that our creative spirit goes into hiding every time we pick up our pen (no matter how glitzy and cute it is.) If we could surrender to the process of writing, like we did before we labelled ourselves as writers, we would see the folly of our expectations.

We would remember that no piece of writing ever has to satisfy anyone except ourselves.

We would remember that no piece of writing is ever flawless.

We would remember that no piece of writing is ever perfect after the first draft. Or the second. Or the third. Possibly not even after the fourth, fifth or sixth drafts.

The next time you find yourself staring at the blank page too petrified to pen a word, remember the following:

  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else – novice or professional. Ever.
  • Writing is a journey that the writer goes on. Every time you sit down to write something, it’s like going on a treasure hunt deep into your Self, excavating what’s there and pouring it out into some form of writing. Sometimes you’ll dig up rubbish, sometimes gold.
  • If you’re serious about writing, then be willing to write badly. Bad writing is your training wheels.
  • There is no right way to write. Only your way.

Speaking of the right way to write… If Little Red had used a bit of creativity and found her own path to her granny’s house, instead of using the one that everyone else used, the Big Bad Wolf probably wouldn’t have found her at all. He was just hanging around, knowing there would always be travellers that choose to stay on the straight and narrow path because they’re too afraid to explore what else is out there. Easy pickings for him.

So skip along on your writing journey in your own, unique way. Find a path with scenery that you can enjoy, pick some flowers along the way, and take your time. Don’t allow generalised expectations of what writer’s are supposed to be, or the excessive control that this inspires, distract you from your journey.

Happy Writing!

I’m an Intuitive Life coach originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. I combine life coaching with guidance that I receive from the Angels and my Guides. I work with people from all over the world via Skype, and am passionate about helping people move forward with their creative dreams. Other than my work, I’m passionate about writing and teaching people how to use their intuition. I’m also a regular Ashtanga yoga practitioner and meditator. I live with my two daughters and my partner, our dog, cat and guinea pigs in a happy but noisy (and rickety) little house at the edge of a cliff in Auckland, New Zealand.

 

 

Find Angie and her writing in these places:

AngieNoll.com —  Facebook — TUT.com

The best time to write your fiction book blurb isn’t when you think

The best time to write your fiction book blurb isn’t when you think

Sent by Glenna Mageau

Writing the fiction book blurb is something that many authors don’t think about… until they are finished writing their novels. What if I told you that that might why it’s so difficult to write?

I don’t know about you, but I was taught that when you write a story, you start at the beginning and you write until it’s finished. In other words, you write linearly, from start to end. And I used to do this with all my stories and everything I did with them – I’d do one thing, finish it and then move on to the next.

So, I’d write my novel, do the rewrites, edit, rewrite and then send it out to my beta team. And that’s when I’d start thinking about writing my fiction book blurb. By this time, though, I was so immersed in the novel and all that happened, I didn’t know what to include and what not to. Little did I know I was truly making the whole process more difficult.

Now to be honest, when I do something I do make sure that I am focused on it so that I am doing a good job with it. However, as soon as I stop doing it, whether finished or not, I move on to doing something else.

My old method of waiting until I was finished writing the book, was a big mistake. What it did was give me a lot of extra work to do. I’d have to read back through 95,000 words and try to figure out what to pull from that. What was interesting? What would give a good idea of what my story was about? How was I supposed to put it all together?

Aaaaahhhhh. It used to drive me crazy. I would spend hours, days, weeks working on this thing. It was painful.

Until I finally figured out there was a much simpler way of doing it. When I published my second novel and I discovered I still found writing the fiction book blurb so daunting, I realized I had to figure out why it was so hard. Writing 200 words for an author or writer is really, relatively easy. Writing 200 words that encapsulates 90,000? A whole different story.

After a lengthy journey of studying what makes fiction book blurbs compelling and then figuring out how to do that, I discovered that when I write the fiction book blurb made all the difference.

If I start writing my book description at the same time as I write my novel, here’s what happens:

  1. I am done writing it by the time I’m done writing my novel
  2. My fiction book blurb is so much more compelling and interesting
  3. I can really grab the essence of the story
  4. It is so much easier to know what to pull from the story
  5. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the story – what to include and what not to include.

Having now published four novels, I can honestly say that when I write the fiction book blurb, truly makes all the difference. It is so much easier to write it at the same time as I write my novel. Doing that along with knowing what to pull from my stories has made the process really quite simple. When I’m done writing my novel, I’m done writing my fiction book blurb. In fact, I often have the book description written before I’m 3/4’s finished writing my novel. I love it.

If I can give you a piece of advice — the moment you start writing your novel, ensure that you’re starting to write your fiction book blurb. It will save you time, stress and frustration. And you’ll find it just sounds so much better. So not only will you feel better about what you’ve written but your novel will thank you as well.

How about you? What process do you follow?

Want more tips on writing a fiction book blurb? Sign-up for my free ebook – 3 Keys to Creating a Compelling and Interesting Fiction Book Blurb.

Glenna Mageau an award-winning suspense/thriller author, who works with Indie/Self Published authors to create attention grabbing fiction book blurbs. Her first attempts at writing fiction book blurbs were dismal, time consuming and very stressful. Finally figuring out how to write interesting, compelling and attention grabbing ones, she created a course – Mastering the Art of Writing the Catchy Fiction Book Blurb – to help all Indie/Self-published authors do the same.

 

 

 

Find Glenna and her writing in these places:

GlennaMageau.com — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — GoodreadsFacebookTwitter — Pinterest

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Resisting the Lure of a Shiny New Story

Resisting the Lure of a Shiny New Story

Sent by Alexia Adams

I read a tweet a few weeks ago that said,

“Telling a writer you have a story idea for them is like bringing a box of broken toasters to a hoarder’s house – trust me, we’re good.”

This is so true. Once you start to write, you’ll likely find story ideas flood your mind. A phrase, a photo, an overheard snippet of conversation, almost anything can spark our imagination. After all, that’s what make us writers in the first place. But these bright ideas can lead us down a dark path. If not carefully managed, all these wonderful plots can stop us from achieving our overriding goal—finishing a story through to ‘The End’.

I recently wrote a three book series that I self-published. While writing the third book (which I’d intended to be the last), one of the secondary characters whispered that he’d like a story as well. Then one night he showed up — complete with heroine, backstory, and rough plot — into my dreams. Thanks, Eduardo. However, in the meantime, I’d also pitched another series to one of my editors, so felt I had to at least get the first book written in case she wanted to contract it. Then I was asked to write a promo piece incorporating a carnival scene, and that warped into a complete story idea as well. Broken toaster, anyone?

With three full-fledged stories in my brain all fighting to get out, my writing became paralyzed. Every time I sat down to write one book, another gem of dialogue or a little bit of backstory or half-baked scene floated into my brain from one of the other stories. This was always at its worst when stuck on the story I sat down to work on. Then writing anything else seemed easy by comparison. But I knew if I didn’t push past the initial hurdle I’d end up with a plethora of chapter 3s and no ‘The Ends’ to show for it.

So, how do I manage this ADD writing? A damn good notebook, preferably one with dividers so I can have a different section for each story. I carry this notebook with me everywhere. Then when the snippet of dialogue or perfect scene description hits me for any one of the other stories, I can quickly jot it down and then still concentrate on my main story. (Okay, confession, I have an equal number of notes written on the back of grocery store receipts but the idea of being organized is there.)

I also find setting deadlines helpful for me. I will finish story #1 by this date, then let it sit while I work on story #2. Of course in the meantime, stories 456 through 832 have also assaulted my brain. I write the salient bits of these ideas down in my trusty treasure chest notebook for that day when the inspiration dries up. I’ve been writing seven years now and it still hasn’t happened. But unless the book is on the schedule it has to wait it’s turn. I find this also allows the strongest ideas to linger and the ‘hey, this might work’ ones to dissipate before I waste too much time on them.

However, if you see Eduardo’s story, ‘Vintage Love’ book 4, up on Amazon in the next six months, then know that he’s had his wicked way with me and bumped himself up on the schedule. After all, some heroes are more persuasive than others.

Wishing you many ‘The Ends’,
Alexia

When not breaking up fights among her four children or dreaming of a world without housework, Alexia Adams writes contemporary romance stories that reflect her love of exotic destinations and diverse characters and cultures.

Find Alexia and her writing in these places:

AlexiaAdams.comAmazon.comAmazon.ca — GoodreadsFacebookTwitter

Breathe in your word count, breathe out excuses not to write

Breathe in your word count, breathe out excuses not to write

Sent by Susan Colleen Browne

We writers are always looking for the magic pill to raise our game, aren’t we? If you’re like me, you often feel that you’ve got to pile it on—do more. Write more, market more, join the next new social media platform.

But what if you could enhance your writing life by doing less? Letting go? A little mindfulness can help you do exactly that.

So…what exactly is being mindful? And what can it do for you? Mindfulness is basically using the breath to focus on the present moment and to cultivate your self-awareness—tuning in on what’s going on in both your mind and body. I recently learned the average human has 40,000-70,000 thoughts per day—think of all that inner chatter about your job, your family, your to-do list and the perennial ups and downs of modern life. If you’re a fiction writer, you might also be thinking about your characters and their thoughts! But you can start managing this veritable tsunami of mental activity by something as simple as the breath.

There are lots of mindful breathing/meditation techniques out there, but the simplest is…well, simple:

Close your eyes, relax and release the tension in your body. Breathe slowly, and try to let go of whatever you’re thinking.

Focusing on your breathing instead of your thoughts is probably the most challenging part of the process, but with practice, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to allow your thoughts to simply pass through your mind.

Here’s an easy technique that works for me. Slowly inhale, and imagine your breath starting from your feet, and flowing up to the top of your head. As your exhale, visualize your breath flowing from your head back down to your feet, and so on—your breath flowing upward, then down again. You can do this sitting up or lying down—and it’s a great way to help you go to sleep.

You might be thinking, I don’t have time to meditate! I don’t even have the time to write! I hear you, sister! That’s where we bring in that oxymoron known as time management. This term apparently shows up in 100,000 Google searches each month—which tells me no one has really figured out how to manage time.

We writers can try: there’s loads of advice out there on ways to prioritize your writing. Or how to develop the discipline to pump out those 500 or 1,000 or 5,000 words each day like successful authors do. Sometimes, though, you need a more organic approach…a way to fit writing into the flow of your days and your life.

Don’t get me wrong—on the days I get my 1,000 words on the page I feel like Wonder Woman. But the other days…I try to focus on simply being more intentional about my writing.

For instance, you can find a little mental space to focus on your story by taking one breath, relaxing your shoulders and asking yourself, “What can I let go of right now?” (Thanks to Margaret Chester, author of Chocolate Yoga.)

Going for short and sweet can be helpful too. If you’ve got only 5-15 minutes, please don’t tell yourself, I can’t get any writing done in so little time! How about:

  • Opening up your document and plunking around with your story for a few minutes. This can create a pathway for new ideas.
  • Setting a timer for 5-10 minutes and writing as fast as you can. Speedwriting can be hugely energizing, even if you create material unrelated to your work-in-progress.
  • Writing just 100 words—it’s only a paragraph!
  • Telling yourself you’ll write for only 5 minutes—the “5 Minute Trick.” You’ll often get to the end of your time and discover you don’t want to stop!

But we all have times when life gets especially crazy. What if you don’t have the energy to be at your computer, much less to create new material? Here’s where simply hanging out with your Work In Progress can keep your mind and heart on writing. Or as author Jim Lynch says, “Think about your story every day…spend time with your project every day.” You can:

  • Daydream about your story
  • Cluster your story, or scribble a few story ideas
  • Review some research materials
  • Re-read any ms pages or story notes

For the essence of organic, non-time management for writers, consider this from poet Naomi Shihab Nye:

“Walk around feeling like a leaf. Know you could tumble any second. Then decide what to do with your time.”

Start with a little mindful breathing, and you might find yourself stepping into the creative flow of the story, poem or book you’ve been longing to write…and then finishing it!

Susan Colleen Browne weaves her love of Ireland and her passion for country living into her Village of Ballydara series, novels and stories set in the Irish countryside. She’s also the author of an award-winning memoir, Little Farm in the Foothills, and the Morgan Carey Adventure series for tweens. A community college creative writing instructor, Susan uses mindfulness practices to help balance novel writing and running an organic mini-farm in the foothills of the Pacific Northwest.

Find Susan and her writing in these places:

SusanColeenBrowne.com Little Farm in the Foothills blog — Amazon.comAmazon.ca — Goodreads — Google+

The power of asking ‘What if…’

The power of asking ‘What if…’

Sent by Wendy Delaney

When I get together to brainstorm story ideas with other writers it’s only a matter of time until one of us says, “what if….”

I’ve heard some outlandishly brilliant suggestions that begin with those two words. More times than not these suggestions come not from the author who created the characters under discussion, but from one of the other writers lending her brain power.

It’s not difficult to understand why this is the case. When you’re not the stake-holder, when you’re there simply to offer up suggestions, there is no fear of making a wrong decision. Your creativity is invited to come out and play the “what if” game in a fear-free environment. So what if some of these outlandish ideas don’t fly. Take fear (of failure, of trying something new/different, of criticism, etc.) out of the mix and your creativity is given the invitation to soar.

Eliminating fear is easier said than done, especially for new writers. Having been there, I totally get that. So, I’d like to offer a suggestion:

Don’t let fear hold you back. As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

Work on your craft, take classes, talk with other writers, read work by authors you admire – what if you did all these things? What if you took a shot at your writing goals? Could you finish your first book (novella or short story) a year from now?

Imagine what could happen if you followed through on a “what if.”

Seattle-based Wendy Delaney writes fun-filled cozy mysteries and is the award-winning author of the Working Stiffs Mystery series. A long-time member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and Mystery Writers of America, she’s a Food Network addict and pastry chef wannabe. When Wendy’s not killing off story people she can be found on her treadmill, working off the calories from her latest culinary adventure.

Find Wendy and her writing in these places:

WendyDelaney.com — Amazon.comAmazon.caGoodreads — Facebook — Twitter

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