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Author Topic: "Know the end of your story before starting it" or make a path writing it?  (Read 1168 times)

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Offline Estar

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Have any of you actually thought of how are your stories going to end before anything else? Or do you just write the fresh ideas you get and keep continuing and scalating them until you're happy with it?

I know planning is the key for everything in life, but i just wanted to know if this was a "golden rule" that everyone who is considered a good storyteller follows, or are there exceptions of people who preferred to do it "their way"?

When i write, i just let the current situation carry on, and just keep going, as if i'm watching a movie in my mind. I don't really know if that's because i do write for pleasure (so i don't have to care for commercial aspects).

What golden rule can you provide to what you consider good writing?

Offline Forlorn Serpent

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The only golden rule that i follow, "writing is rewriting" and "Know where you are going." Though, knowing the ending basically equals this. 

To answer your first question. Yes, i have an ending for every one of my stories. I know what voice i have, and what message i want to tell the audience. The key is to not preach, but show through the story how i want to change the world. I hold on to the belief that writers are teachers, philosophers, and innovators.

The end is the most important part of any story. It tells the audience what purpose your story serves. How everything you have written cumulates into something significant. Anyone can write the beginning of a story, harder to write the middle, impossible to write the end. What do i mean by that? A good ending is always hard. It connects everything. If your story just ends, without purpose, it means you sucked as an author.  If you know the ending, you have a finish line. Try to understand that.

I know a lot of people say, i want my characters to be "free" or i want my world to be "limitless." That's all good for the beginning stages of writing your story. However, as i have seen, you end up 1-5 years later, and you still haven't written, formed, or even thought up a good story line, with an intriguing enough premise, with any well formed structure. The problem here  is they kept thinking up a new beginning, or moved on to other characters. Even worse, you spend months/years, on a written piece and realize you have to scrap it because (1) editors tell you to do so, (2) you realize that nothing in it matters to the story, (3) it is completely different from the rest of the story because you kept changing your mind.

You can find it in youtube with creatives (authors, screenwriters, etc.) telling you their experience, 99% do not write out of the blue, perfect the first time, with no ending in mind. Outlines serve as a guide to push them in the right direction.  If you don't complete the story, by having a beginning, middle, and end, you will never have a rough draft. With that rough draft you can fix, tweak or whatever. Books and movies go through dozens of drafts. BUt the important part is that they are fixing a problem that is fixable. Not rewriting an entire story all over again, because you though of something completely different from your original idea.

Offline BobbyJoeXForgotenSB

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not really, it is a rule to some, for example. a lot of Shounen Jump manga continue and continue til either, the creator gets bored with it or they get cancelled. that is usually when they have to make an ending and a lot of times its rushed. these are people that go with the flow of the story where they could have a vague idea on how it ends but would rather let themselves run their course with the story

Offline Forlorn Serpent

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Retcon equals bad author
Foreshadow equals great author

Guides help.

Offline CptCog

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not really, it is a rule to some, for example. a lot of Shounen Jump manga continue and continue til either, the creator gets bored with it or they get cancelled. that is usually when they have to make an ending and a lot of times its rushed. these are people that go with the flow of the story where they could have a vague idea on how it ends but would rather let themselves run their course with the story

Problem I find with shounen jump manga is they either don't have an ending even thought up, causing them to go on and on and on, or they have a planned ending, and jump keeps milking that old cow past her prime. I believe the author of deathnote said this. He originally wanted to have the series end with
Spoiler
L dying
, but couldn't because jump made him go further.

Personally, I have an ending for every single story I make. In addition, I have a main theme I want the reader to learn, as well as character guides. Each arc I make also has an impact on my characters as a whole. For example, the character could learn a new skill and a new ideal, they could be completely unchanged but the world around them changed, or they had a negative evolution.

My favourite saying is, "stories are never finished - they are merely released." I continually revise my stories all the time. One point in time I may like one thing, but it doesn't fit with the rest of the theme. My advice is to have a general idea with your story. What you want your characters to accomplish by the end, whether it's they die, they kill the demon king, etc. Then fill in the gaps as you go along in the same manner. In this arc, how do the characters start out, what is the major issue they run in to, and how to they ultimately resolve it and grow? Then continually revise this until you like it, or you get so tired of changing it that you say, "Good enough!"

Offline AmanoMai

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Problem I find with shounen jump manga is they either don't have an ending even thought up, causing them to go on and on and on, or they have a planned ending, and jump keeps milking that old cow past her prime. I believe the author of deathnote said this. He originally wanted to have the series end with
Spoiler
L dying
, but couldn't because jump made him go further.


wow, really?
maybe that explains why I started to skim reading somewhat after that point. And especially toward the end.
Even though the quality has not dropped. Perhaps it felt like the cow was already milked dry I'm not interested for more.
He still made a decent ending regardless though.

Offline NO1SY

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You learn it from preschool...

A story has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Without the beginning, the story can't start (Duhhhhh)

Without the end, how can the parts in the middle contribute to the plot and move it forward without an end-point to move towards? And how can you establish a character's goals to achieve if you don't know what the goal is?

I'd say as long as you have a vague idea of how the story ends then you are able to write scenarios in the middle that move the story towards that. Obviously a clear idea of how things end is better as you can be a lot more specific in your middle section.

I'm not saying leaving the ending open ended doesn't work sometimes... but you have to have a really strong idea about how your story goes down to wait and decide the ending later.

BUT I would warn not to get lost in planning the perfect beginning, middle and end. Plan a story idea quick and then just let it sit for a bit. In the meantime just write down scenes that you imagine (doesn't have to be for that story idea). In the end you will get the first drafts of scenes that you want to use in that story idea and that will help to inspire more to follow that fit the idea more closely and contribute more to the ending.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2016, 06:02:24 AM by NO1SY »

Offline DeAngelus

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Have any of you actually thought of how are your stories going to end before anything else? Or do you just write the fresh ideas you get and keep continuing and scalating them until you're happy with it?
To be honest , both methods aren't wrong at all as it's up to one's personal taste & workings . Some like it if the creates it's own ending , others prefer to have an ending made so that they can the story can make it's way there . As for me , I work with all , including methods not mentioned here , with the only variances are the type of story I'm going for .

Quote
I know planning is the key for everything in life, but i just wanted to know if this was a "golden rule" that everyone who is considered a good storyteller follows, or are there exceptions of people who preferred to do it "their way"?
I don't think the 'Golden Rule' applies to ending as they're subjective method wise , but plan ahead is definitely one of the 'Golden Rule' .

Quote
When i write, i just let the current situation carry on, and just keep going, as if i'm watching a movie in my mind. I don't really know if that's because i do write for pleasure (so i don't have to care for commercial aspects).
If that's the case , then you're doing no wrong there .

Quote
What golden rule can you provide to what you consider good writing?
1) Planning is key , which you've known of it there .
2) Research is the best friend you'll ever have . It will not betray you .
3) So as practice .
4) Start small , then go big once you've gained momentum & better understanding .
5) ALWAYS revise the entire story after every chapter completed for any potential damaging defects , like plot holes , awkward storytelling & broken character , as many times as needed .
« Last Edit: April 19, 2016, 06:43:15 AM by DeAngelus »
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Offline Forlorn Serpent

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I started to think about this more. There are basically two types of stories. day to day and the overarching narrative. 
the day to day, i think it is called the serial format, is just your characters doing stuff. The point is just the characters themselves and how they react to the world you created. In this format, you don't need to know the ending, just the rules that govern your world. Even if there are no rules in the world you created (rick and morty).

I have seen a trend recently in the day to day format, there is a goal the author wants to lead up to but, they mask it with subtle signs in the day to day episodes. I like it because the audience is unprepared when it finally occurs. In adventure time, i really liked it when we find out that ice king and marceline were connected. Before that, everything was just random adventures. 

Offline Estar

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Many of you have mixed tastes, some go with the know the end and some don't, but what i could see in almost every post is basically this: tell a message to the audience and/or make your characters progress to their goals.

So if think of an ending, then i'm probably thinking of what goal my characters will achieve, or what central message and principles i'll communicate to my audience with the story's ending. I'm (now) definitely aware of this, and i actually never thought of these points when saying "know the end of your story", and thought it's just the simple task of "know the final events and try to make them epic, well paced and done".

Can we say "know the end of your story" is a subjective way of asking "show us what you wanted to teach us, or let us know what did the characters achieved in the climax"? This makes me think, if i actually have a message i want to give, and/or have something new i want the character to learn (a technique, a way of thinking, or even set a goal through the course), without explicitly knowing the events of the ending of the main story or arc, i can still carry on with the writing to whatever the final events will be.

Regarding to the serialized manga and stuff, i'll take my favorite manga as an example: Kenichi. So, Kenichi does have a clear message Matsuena tries to give since the very beginning, and the following arcs and actions are what makes Kenichi evolve and learn Matsuena's principles, still the end left me kind of empty and felt rushed. I think this isn't a case of "not knowing the end" but "not knowing the final events", it was too quick to digest and didn't make for the expectations i, at least, was hoping for.

So in conclusion, i can say 2 things of "knowing the end": have clear what message you want to give or your characters will evolve. The other one is just a literal task of crafting the final events. You can NOT know the final events, but knowing the main goal is enough to continue, as i can see. If you plan ahead and do research, you should do fine crafting the events.

Please correct me if im wrong or missing something, i just want to learn these aspects, and i'm really interested to know more about writing!

Offline DeAngelus

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Don't treat the ending as what you expect it to be all the time . The ever changing nature to revision may require you to alter the ending as well .
Kickstarting MANGA MAVERICKS !
The site's still new , so help the site grow !
Also , it's a site where I'll give my critique to those who want one . So , do join if you want one . I might offer it here too . PM if you wanted one .

Offline CptCog

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Don't treat the ending as what you expect it to be all the time . The ever changing nature to revision may require you to alter the ending as well .

That's a really good point as well. Off the top of my head (although it's not manga), How I met Your Mother had what I consider to be a disappointing ending. It had been planned and filmed by season two, but by the last season it just didn't fit as a good ending anymore. I think it is good to have a general plan, though, or else you paint yourself into a proverbial corner and have to use a Deus Ex machina.

I think the biggest part about the end of a story isn't so much the events that happen, but rather the moral or lesson that you want to show your readers. For example, a story where light is considered to do no wrong and dark is considered evil. But at the end of the story, this lie is replaced in the character's mind as being wrong. Possibly light has evil to it, and darkness has good in it. But I dunno. Just my thoughts.

Offline passerby

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I'm going to agree with NO1SY here.  Begining, Middle, End, and pretty everything else he's stated.  I pretty much do the same.  Simply have an ideal direction if you don't know any one of the three parts.

You can make due with 2 of 3.  You don't want to spend too much time trying to figure out the perfect beginning/middle/end.  You want to stay productive and keep making progress.  Sometimes it's better to just tackle in on your story and get all your ideas down, then you can backtrack and fill in the missing pieces. 


"When i write, i just let the current situation carry on, and just keep going, as if i'm watching a movie in my mind. I don't really know if that's because i do write for pleasure (so i don't have to care for commercial aspects)."

This tends to be a pet peeve of mine (your situation may vary).  Often times I read stories and they talk, talk, talk.  There is no action, nothing important happens, it doesn't contribute to the story, or it's a filler.  Hey, it's great that you love to write (we all do).  But don't make it your achilles heel.  At some point you need to move your story along and not waste your readers time.