Critical Mass: First Draft

the end

      I’M AIMING FOR around 80,000 words on my first draft of Down To Earth (that leaves me 10k to add in). Currently I’m at seventy, and the story is at that critical stage where everything is starting to tie in. All the characters are arcing towards the finale and the plot is suddenly primed with turbo and racing towards resolution.

It is a time of both excitement and apprehension. In my mind, I know exactly what is going to happen and who needs to be where. I don’t write notes generally, so all of the finale is a series of images in my mind. If there was some way to develop them and print them off, I don’t doubt they’d look like they were taken from a real place. Now, while that sounds ideal, there is a trick some brains will play on the writer. Knowing the end can be dangerous to the creative process. A) You know the end, therefore the end has been ‘written’ B) Knowing the end can stifle creativity in getting to the end.

I’ll deal with those two issues separately. With A actually writing the end (or it can be a scene, chapter, short story) can seem more difficult because the brain has resolved the problem in theory, and it is easy to feel a lethargy with that. A series of satisfactory mental scenes can feel almost too close to being realised.

With B just knowing the end can hold back creativity. If you know the plot between Y—-Z then creatively, the mind will be loath to fill that gap with anything else. Of course we need an end point at some stage, but in terms of writing a novel I agree with the likes of Stephen King in that planning the end from the outset is a story killer. Strangely when it comes to short stories I do tend to know the ending, but with a book I work better not thinking too hard about it until the story develops to the point where it is needed.

So, the finish line is calling, but there’s almost a reluctance to reach it. It’s almost as if on some conscious level I am sabotaging myself, because it will mean the end of the story until I begin redrafting. Well! Maybe it’s the dreaded redrafting and editing that I am actually delaying? Either way I need to get back on the story train. What station does it stop at?

Happy writing. (Or tortured writing – hey, as long as it’s productive.)

 

lion around 2

 

41 Comments

  1. Wow, that is great news to be so close to the end. (Now, the real WORk begins). I find it interesting that you have images of the finale, but not a concise ending. I cannot write a story without knowing the ending first.

    Interesting how everyone has different methods to achieve the same goal. Wishing you continued success with your project.

  2. I had that difficult “just finish the damn thing!” stage. I ended up writing the end in the middle of the night in a hotel in London while my family all slept. Sometimes you’ve just got to get it down while its there!

  3. Ugh… I feel your pain. I’m at literally the same spot in my story, around 80,000 words. I already worked out how I have to end it, but now the words just won’t come to actually get there. Good luck with your novel endeavor! May the muses be with you!

  4. Wishing you all the best my friend. Keep B closer 🙂 🙂
    Have a gorgeous day! And enjoy not so torturous creative writing.
    Dajena 🙂

  5. Wow! Amazing work Lion. Not much that I could tell on this, so here’s wishing you, good luck for the completion of the book and the other things after the drafting.
    Surely gonna wait eagerly to read it! 😊😊

  6. Of the two basic methods – plot the whole story, incl. the end OR just write and let the story take you along as you write – my head tells me to choose the first. One generally finishes up changing it anyway. But it’s whatever works for you.

      1. As I say, whatever works for you . . .
        I often find that, whatever my “head” tells me, the emotion in me kicks in to negate it. Does that make sense?

  7. You go and get that ending! I’m always reluctant to reach the ending of my books. I always have a vague idea of how it will end, but that last chapter is almost scary to write! Good luck! Sure it will be fabulous.

  8. I understand what you mean, knowing the end of the story can make the writing process a little bit less satisfactory. But maybe that´s the point where you have to start writing it with the eyes of the reader. We all do it when we read a book, we anticipated the next word, the next sentence and sometimes the next chapter. At least that´s what I do 😉 With my Count Harecula it´s totally different though – I really don´t have a clue where this is leading and that´s the sheer fun of it 😀 Wish you strength for your the last 10k!!! I´m sure you´l make it just fine 🙂

    1. Thanks Miss G.
      I just have to get the writing done. I know how it’s going to end, it’s just a question of doing the ending in my mind justice on the page – and I didn’t plan it at all, I find that works best creatively.

  9. Sounds like you might be heading into a case of “kill your darlings”… Knowing the end might be seen as a resting place after a long journey but which can be changed due to unforeseen events. For some reason, in my mind, I see a walk in the wilderness and I have my road plotted out on a map but the season makes the terrain unpredictable, the GPS is out of battery and I can only rely on a cheap compass. At least I have a goal, something to focus at reaching.

    1. Well killing charcaters is never something that bothers me, but there shall be blood, there has to be.
      Knowing something of the end is beneficial especially once near to it. A compass is better than nothing 🙂 For much of my story it is like that walk in the wilderness until it tapers into some semblance of a finishable story, often by ‘natural’ causes, as in the story ends up going a certain way.

  10. Hey, I haven’t stopped by in a while, but it’s great to see that your project is coming along nicely. Me, I plot out an ending, then three quarters of the way through I realize why it won’t work. Then I beat my head against a wall for three or four weeks, and come up with something different. Then I have to go back and change the beginning to fit the end.

    1. Cheers man.
      I think reverse engineering it happens on some level whether we want it to or not, theres always something needing tweaked and rearranged, although the hope is that its something minor.
      My ending works but I need to think it through once more just to make sure there is no fatal flaw and to fully establish who ends up where – its a fucking complicated chess board lol
      Good to see you around, I hope your book is doing well.

      1. I like to think of it as time-travelling. If somebody need as gun in the last act, I can just jump in my time machine and set the gun on the mantle in the first act, and nobody’s the wiser. The book is doing okay. Not as great as I’d hoped, but not as bad as I feared.

  11. Congratulations, man, looks like you’re about to beat me to the finish line! haha… Can’t wait to read what you’ve come up with.

    In my case it’s usually (I can say “usually” now that I’m hammering away at the third novel, I suppose) like this: I don’t know much about the ending until I reach a point somewhere in the middle of the novel. Then I start panicking and procrastinating a bit, worried that what I’m writing is actually a very wordy turd, so then I force myself to sit down and plot out a very rough plot with only the most basic pointers to show me the way out of the hole I’ve dug myself into 🙂 Normally that gives me enough confidence to plod on until the end (which, both in the first and second novels, ultimately turned out to be different from what I initially thought it would be).

    So yeah, I make a sort of a plan when I reach the mid-point, but my characters rarely stick to it, because by then they seem to have minds of their own, and they like nothing more than to screw up my plans 🙂

    1. Well, it’s not done until it’s done right, but as we both know the first draft is the beginning of the end times…how many rewrites, edits etc is the real question. In a way I am looking forward to it more with this as the other project was less malleable 😉
      Seems like you have a system down now that’s always good. And characters will usually determine where a story goes (and to my detriment my first novel attempt went awry as a result.)
      Best of luck getting the book finished, look forward to reading it. 🙂

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