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Old January 15 2009, 03:24 PM   #1
Flying Spaghetti Monster
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a thoyught for all writers of stories

When I wrote my big novel, I didn't know how it would end. By contrast, many writers know exactly how their stuff will end before they write the first word. Sure this is usually a good thing, particularly in thrillers and mysteries, all of that. I guess it's just not my style. My endings have to grow organically from the characters, almost as if they have to make their own decisions as to what will happen, and over the course of writing something and as I get closer to the characters as I go I realize what decisions are best for them, and the ending will surprise me yet not, because to be true to the characters it will end up the only ending that I could have written.

I bring this up because I was listening to the screen writer commentary on Rain Man who said that the ending was never planned until they actually shot it, that what happened to the characters came about a certain way.

So do agree, or do you like to have the ending planned out before hand and then you try make sure the story you write hits those beats correctly. I'm not putting down the style, instead I think a good discussion might arise
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Old January 15 2009, 09:23 PM   #2
kitkat
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

Well, I'm in the midst of writing a book now (about 12 chapters in) and I've got a general idea of how I would like it to end but I don't know exactly. Like you, I kind of want to let it happen as it happens.
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Old January 15 2009, 11:38 PM   #3
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

While nothing published, I've written a few things. I plan the story our beforehand, but as the characters grow and deepen, other endings have appeared, which is not a bad thing. Just because there's an outline doesn't mean it's fixed in stone. But it does also give you a focus point if the characters grow within poarameters.
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Old January 16 2009, 05:03 AM   #4
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

It's okay not to know how your story ends when you start writing it.

As long as you're okay taking the chance that to end your story right will require you to re-write every frakking thing that came before.
While nothing published, I've written a few things. I plan the story our beforehand, but as the characters grow and deepen, other endings have appeared, which is not a bad thing. Just because there's an outline doesn't mean it's fixed in stone. But it does also give you a focus point if the characters grow within poarameters.
It sounds like you are writing your story the right way: keeping your story organic and open-ended. And boldly risking the possibility of years of rewrites. Well, good for you. That is the way to write something worth reading, but it might suck for you to have to tear up everything by the roots years from now.

I wrote 1 1/2 novels of an ongoing series before recently realizing the problem I was having proceding was that my basic premise SUCKED! So I revised the premise, kept some elements of the characters and much of the universe-building I had to do in writing the 1 1/2 novels, and I'm starting from scratch. Not too shabby though, considering how much groundwork I've already laid.
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Old January 16 2009, 05:10 AM   #5
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

In writing, one can plan things out as much as they want... be there is something to said for letting the whole process be a little organic. I think some better stuff can potentially emerge from that as compared to heavily-planned stuff. And, as is said, if you have your plot and, most importantly, good characters in place, the story should (to a degree, at least) write itself.
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Old January 16 2009, 05:13 AM   #6
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

Whenever I come up with a new idea, it's basically the beginning and ending of the story. After that it's just a matter of coming up with the middle bits.

Hey Temis, I think you actually sent me your story way back in the day like 8 years ago. It was called Pandora, right? What was/is your premise?
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Old January 16 2009, 05:36 AM   #7
Temis the Vorta
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

Hah, I told someone here about it?

The original premise was to have the main character discover a race of beings in a parallel reality who could exist in the main character's universe, but only as "ghosts" who. These "ghosts" could actually interact with physical reality and wreak havok (no walls or security systems could stop them). The problem that developed was, the main character was not the focal point of the story if his role was merely to communicate with and influence the "ghosts." That led to problems in continuing the story - didn't feel like the main character had an organic place at the heart of the story. I could have solved the problem by having one of the "ghosts" take over as the lead, but that didn't feel right.

So I revised the premise to place the main character at the heart of story by having him able to communicate with, or even take over the will of, his "doubles" in parallel realities. There are an infinite number of parallel realities, some very similar to the first reality, some completely divergent. If a person from reality one can control someone in a very similar reality, he could discover all sorts of information that could be useful in his own reality.

A simple example: how to break into the security system in the neighborhood bank. Maybe the "double" is the head of security at that bank. Leads to all sorts of interesting possibilities for plotlines and for interaction between doubles, as they suddenly are being sabotaged by, well, themselves, but selves with very different agendas.

To keep my main character sympathetic, I won't have him be the instigator of these contacts. His double in an alternate reality will attack him first (abetted by those in his own reality who could benefit in some way). The first part of the story will be simply him figuring out that he's not simply insane. Then he needs to formulate a way to fight foes in two separate realities, one of which has direct access to his psyche.

I have this awful feeling that that premise has already been used in some way, somewhere...some novel, some TV show I haven't heard of. But heck, even if it has, there's nothing new under the sun anyway. The stuff I like tends to be old wine in interesting new bottles anyway.
if you have your plot and, most importantly, good characters in place, the story should (to a degree, at least) write itself.
My advice: come up with a good premise (a conflict that the reader can identify with, that has no easy resolution) and characters who fit the traditional archetypes (the young hero seeking to make a name for him/herself, the sage elder, the fun-seeker, the power-seeker, the damaged soul, etc) but give them some original twist. Then toss them together and see what plot emerges.
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Old January 16 2009, 06:54 AM   #8
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

Ahhhh, word processors... how good are they?

Think of all the work you'd have to do retypong pages from scratch.
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Old January 16 2009, 06:56 AM   #9
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

Damn retypong, bane of my existence!
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Old January 16 2009, 01:30 PM   #10
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

Ahhh, yes, and spellcheckers
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Old January 16 2009, 03:31 PM   #11
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

Temis: That's funny, I could have sworn it was a spaceships n' aliens type show. It is called Pandora though, right? It sounds like a mix between three recent stories, Doctor Who "Army of Ghosts", that South African tv show that was on Sci-Fi awhile ago about all the different parallel realities, and the comic book RASL. RASL is about this art thief who has a jetpack that can jump between different parallel realities, and now he's being pursued in his own world by a twisted copy of himself (only 3 issues so far). But of course these things are only 1-2 years old And I didn't watch it but isn't that what Quantum Leap was about, the guy taking over a different person each week to accomplish something? But as you said, it's pretty much impossible to come up with something that hasn't been done by now in some form. Would this be a book series or a tv series?
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Old January 17 2009, 06:05 AM   #12
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

Often I find it's an idea that sparks a whole story and that the ending is one of the first things I come up with. For me, a story with an ending you don't know in advance (doesn't have to be down word-for-word), is one that lacks a cohesive whole and strays off the main idea and morals you may be trying to establish in hte story.

I make what I call "Plot Outlines" sheets for each story where I put own key moments from the story I am writing and lines and dialogue that are too good to forget.

I also find that when you right a story well and plan in advance, things you accidently write or padding to parts, can come back later and appear to be foreshadowing and even help the story have deeper meaning; and all by accident.

I think a good story is one where you can drawn a line and put dots on it that mark key plot points, and that you can draw curved lines from one point to the other that show ties to each other, creating history in art. Things should just tie together.
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Old January 17 2009, 08:57 PM   #13
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Re: a thoyught for all writers of stories

For the most part, an inspiration for a story comes in the form of seeing the ending, and then I make up the journey. Sometimes I start something with only a vague idea of where to go, and I work on them intermittently as inspiration strikes. The longest thing I've ever written was the King Of The Zombies screenplay, and for that I worked from an intricate outline that was longer than many of my short stories.
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