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July 20th, 2005, 02:05 PM
I was curious about what other people think is the most challenging, writing the beginning of a story or writing the end?

When I was younger beginnings were easy, I would kick off a story in a heart beat and be plunging along with wild abandon. Though finding the end of the story was like trying to stop an avalanche with a plastic snow shovel and a sack of beach sand.

Now Odysseus can get home easier than I can write the first paragraph of a story.

July 20th, 2005, 04:31 PM
Endings, always endings - if I could make it to the end of half the stuff I wrote I would be incredibly prolific :D As it is I can get 30,000 or so words into almost every piece I write then end up dragging my feet and unable to get through sticky patches. I think it's to do with my planning and the inability to write something that maintains my interest for long periods of time.

Hereford Eye
July 20th, 2005, 04:49 PM
For me it's beginnings. I rarely know how the story will end. That is the best part of writing for me, to discover where an opening takes me.

July 20th, 2005, 06:28 PM
They're both a challenge . . . I have a number of unfinished stories and novels, and I've also rewritten the beginning of a novel about 500 times. I think endings are less stressful and more fun, though. Beginnings are just painful.

July 20th, 2005, 08:21 PM
I would have to say the beginnings, not the IMMEDIATE beginnings, but after the initial flow of the story breaks down (the idea that started it all) just a few pages in. Once I get past that though, I can make the whole thing flow straight through to the end and it tends to come pretty easily. It's just getting past that brake-point.

July 20th, 2005, 08:21 PM
They're both a challenge . . . I have a number of unfinished stories and novels, and I've also rewritten the beginning of a novel about 500 times. I think endings are less stressful and more fun, though. Beginnings are just painful.

I hear you on this one. I have this one story, no idea how long it will end up being, that I have started at least 500 times. I have taken about 10 years off from it. I am thinking that maybe next time I start it will be the "right time".

July 21st, 2005, 01:42 AM
I have a lot of fun with beginnings. The first sentence, paragraph, howevermuch, gives me the opportunity to draw the prospective reader into something new, to show something never before seen, or to sketch out the enigma (He thought it was blue, but no, that was yesterday...). Then I get the rest of the story to build on the start, and make sense of it. When I have trouble with a beginning, it's usually because I tried to start the narrative before the story really begins. No time for introductions, the story starts here, we can get aquainted along the way.

I think a story should finish, not just end. This becomes my problem, my foe, my disaster waiting to happen. Does a story end when all of the threads have been tied together? Does it end when the characters have figured out what just happened? Does the story end when the problem has been solved and the main characters have taken two weeks vacation on the islands? Does the story end when the Dr. Watson clone gets a chance to say a funny comment? Any combination of the above.

And I really hate it when I have a good story and can't figure out a good ending. It's the worst.


July 21st, 2005, 02:12 AM
What is hard?

All of it. Beginning, middle and end.

Ideas are easy they flow through my mind all the time.

Taking an idea and setting it down as a "beginning" or first outline is hard as I need to be serious about it.

Then thinking on where I want that beginning to go is hard because it needs to be worked on, research done, characters and plot created.

After that bringing the characters and plot to a conclusion is hard because the ending has to make sense as regards all that has gone before. Not tie up all the ends but draw a line under the action to make it a story.

To complete a story I need to work on it, channel my efforts into that one thing. Try and set aside some time everyday until that work is completed.

If I get distracted by real life or something that catches my eye, a book, film or on the net, I can find I go days without working on the project I have ongoing. This means I have to sit for quite a while, re-reading plot notes, sections of the story to get my self back in the frame of mind.

Often I find the whole writing thing a hard slog and I reach the point where the love I have for the story has turned to hate and it is only by being stubborn (I have started so I am going to finish it) that I keep going.

There is also the temptation to "rush" towards the ending. I am in that situation now. I could "rush" this ending I am approaching and finish the work in about 20,000 words. But it would let everything I have written before down.

So after a night spent on yet another scene list/notes/outline based on all the previous outlines no way is my present work going to be under 160,000 words in this first draft. It will be nearer 200,000 I think and that's first draft. A lot of work to do then, scenes to be fleshed out, new scenes added etc.....

As I said it is all hard.

Andrew J
July 21st, 2005, 08:48 AM
Well, I figure I might as well get more active in this community--it might help me some.

Anyway, it's interesting seeing the differences in people.

To me, it's the beginnings that're hard. An idea is fine--as Hobrook said, I have tons of them so I'm never on a short supply--but starting is hard. Not only the first few paragraphs--I have to put out the right amount of info about a world, whether it be ours or not, make it interesting to "grab the reader"--but the first few chapters. Or about twenty pages. In that, I have to get a sense of the smaller stories around the big stories, the Ley Lines of the place that run its enegry, and get the characters put down. (In rough drafts, I often switch between speaking tones, mannerisms, and so on on the fly for most of the characters in the first 1/4 of it. Such as an African-American woman I once had in a sci-fi conspiracy thriller: she started out sounding SO stereotypical, mostly because I was insecure about her not "sounding" different and such, then I realized that was idiotic and people will know she's a woman because she is said to be: when we boil down to our innards, even in ways of doing things women and men are near identical--we just have slight changes and tweaks in the way we do those things.)

Once I get into the middle, it's very easy for me to go and go and never stop.

Even endings aren't bad for me. Simple, although they are time consuming because I want to slow down and think things through; the one time I didn't and rush through it the ending it sounded like something Neal Stephenson would write.

I also have to be a bigot here and say I wrote a rough draft of a 142,000 word novel in 1 month and a half with low amount of errors (just a few plot inconsitincies that need directed.)

July 21st, 2005, 10:11 AM
Interesting the differences in people. I start out with a broad and somewhat eclectic (or is that eccentric?) knowledge base, but I usually don't research until I am well into the story, by then I have a better idea what I need to know. If I do heavy research first, I end up with an article, not a story. I assume there will be several rewrites and editing passes, and I also know I will find stoopid errors even after I think I'm done.