How does it end?
How does it end?
Now that Halo Round the Moon is finished I have begun planning the fourth story for Maliha Anderson and William Albert Valentine Crier (known to his friends as "Bill", and to Maliha as "Valentine", his least-favourite forename).
When asked whether I'm a planner or a plotter, as I may have mentioned, I'm somewhere in between. But there are key things that I must know. And the most important of those things is how the story ends. If I don't know how it ends I can't write because I don't know where I'm going.
Of course I can't know the end unless I also know the beginning, but beginnings are easy. Endings are much harder.
Subscribers to my newsletter have access to a story I'm serialising just for them (called Frozen Beauty) and earlier this week it came time to write the next installment (and each installment is roughly 1000 words). On Wednesday evening I agonised over 300 words, and it just wasn't working. I gave up, because I already knew what the problem was.
I had mapped the outline of the first Frozen Beauty story before starting, and had got through perhaps 75% of the story because I had a reasonably good idea of where I was going. But now I was getting nearer the end, I needed a clearer picture.
Any writer will tell you a big slice of the writing process involves staring out of the window, or going for walks. In this case it was pacing the length of my not-very-big London flat, throwing ideas around, saying "what if" this and "maybe" that.
I had almost written myself into a corner from which there was no escape without back-tracking. This is not a viable option if you've already published the story to that point. (I wonder if Dickens ever had this issue.)
In the end I figured out how to solve the story and reach the intended ending in a satisfying and energetic way. On Thursday evening I wrote the required number of words in pretty short order. Which was excellent.
Two weeks ago my wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, and last weekend we spent a couple of nights in a very nice hotel. One of the reasons we went was to have a weekend when we could both write.
Not a huge amount of actual writing got done (stop that giggling at the back!) because I was editing a book and she had run into problems with her work-in-progress. We spent a lot of time solving her plotting issues until she knew what was going on with her writing and that allowed her to write a couple of thousand words.
We also discussed my #SaturdayScenes story that I've been serialising on Google+. That particular story was originally a thought experiment I started last year: Given the technology available in my Steampunk universe how does the Royal Navy get into space in 1875? But now I'm writing it as a story that needs to end, and I had no end to write towards.
So we had a chat about it, tossed around a few ideas, and eventually I linked it up with another story I haven't yet written, with yet another new protagonist. So that was all good.
Which brings us full circle to my Maliha Anderson stories. I can't start writing the next one yet. I do know how it starts, I know what crime she'll be investigating, but I haven't established the end yet.
But I'm getting there.