View Full Version : How do you finish a story?
March 13th, 2001, 03:42 AM
I have bit of a problem. Throughout the years I have written or came up with different concepts for stories but was never able to finish them. So, now years later I have just about 20 to 30 unfinished in my eyes short stories. I was wondering if anyone knows how I could take these stories and blend them into one. I am open to all suggestion; also if anyone has the time and effort and would like to collabrate on this or any other project I would love the help.
My next question is how do you finish a story? I always get distracted where I would start another or just drop it because I think its garbage. friends and family say that my stories are good but so did a couple of professors when I was in school. That leads me into my next question how do you know your work is good or at least satisfactory to yourself?
This will be my final question. How do implement story background for example: a tree and building, the girl serving a drink or something that is taking place while dialogue is going on?
Well I also have two short one pager posted on this site feel free to read them. and if anyone has anything that needs to read right away I plenty of free time. Thanks
Since everyone was trying to figure out what the Freezer story is about I will tell you. The Freezer is inspired by the everyday trappings of life. As a kid you have big dreams and plans. We often hold those things dear to us closest to our very being. But like all things dreams shatter; so one day you wake up and realize your dreams are not coming true. If you take a look at your life you see that it is frozen in place, everyday the same thing. So like a piece of meat in a freezer when you thaw you under go a change. the change is not always for the better. Hence the meat gets cooked and eaten.
[This message has been edited by Will_Antilles (edited March 15, 2001).]
March 13th, 2001, 05:22 PM
Well, that's an interesting question you raise, Will.
I guess a story is finished when you've completed the story you set out to tell. But how you go about it is a matter of personal style. For instance, when I write short stories, such as Ghost of Elysium, listed here at SFF, I try to tell a complete story in about 1000 to 3000 words; a story that will usually end with a suprise or twist or in some cases, an heroic type ending, ie: great, the good guy got his revenge after all - that sort of thing, or, at other times, an example of fateful irony.
In a larger story, novella or novel, you need to have an interesting beginning that will grab your readers' attention, a plausible and explainable middle, and of course, a worthy conclusion to the tale you have led us all through over the last however many pages of text!
How you finish your tale will depend a lot of times on how you begin it. It's never a good idea to start a story if you don't know where it's headed, unless of course you want as much of a surpise with the ending as your reader may get! I find it's always better to have a plan in mind, and quite often, I think of an ending then work backwards.
Everyone will have a different method of course, and how you choose to write your stories will determine your overall writing style. Just remember, they always have to have a start, a middle and an ending, but the journey between is what the reader looks for. So, don't make it too long, and don't rush it. The length of a story should be how long it takes you to tell your tale, depending on how many subplots etc. you decide to include. Remember, longer isn't always necessarily better, but a rushed tale will also be painfully apparent to the astute reader.
Anyway, I have read your two tales here as requested, and I think that Character would benefit greatly from the use of paragraphs, more commas and semi colons! The Freezer left me a little bewildered, to tell you the truth, but I enjoyed them both nonetheless!
Check out my short story mentioned above, and the extract from my first published novel, Reflections, if you like; they're both posted here. I also have topics posted for both if you have any feedback. You can find out more about my writing at my Erebus site: www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/ (http://www.wn.com.au/clubclad/erebus/)
[This message has been edited by erebus (edited March 14, 2001).]
March 14th, 2001, 10:54 PM
I've got the opposite problem. My endings kick ass (usual suspects endings) but my beginnings really suck. Offcoarse while i'm writing the beginning I also think they kick ass but on a second reading I relize they weren't as good as I first thought.
Anyway, Will i've gotta ask what you were trying to say with that freezer story i'm like erebus; bewilded.
March 15th, 2001, 06:17 PM
Lots of questions. Let's see if I can offer any sort of help.
Usually when I get a good idea I do one of two things. First, I ignore it, for I usually get all my really good ideas at about 3:30 in the morning, when I am really tired, or I jot down a quick scene about whatever I thought up. So, like you, I also have a bunch of short stories and scenes just lying about.
What I would try to do is find a common element that is in all your stories, or even a common character. Maybe try to connect some of those stories together, rewrite them into one, then go on from there.
I personally think a story is finished when all the questions I might have about it are answered. Other than that, I don't really have a rule for how a story ends. Just when it seems right, I guess.
To implement a backround into dialogue, I usually slowly filter in the backround events in between conversation. Take, for instance, this:
"I'm not sure if I really want to agree with those terms," the nobleman said, looking around for the waitress to refill his drink.
"Oh, I'm sure that we can come to some sort of deal," the black-clad man said, as she came over and poured the two men each a new glass.
Something like that. After each chunk of text, stick in a little about what they are physically doing.
Hope that helped. And now for the shameless self-promotion. Like you all, I also have written stories, one of which, "A Tale from the Tavern of Khlulock" is featured here. I also have others at my website: Fantasy Authors Resource Site (http://msnhomepages.talkcity.com/NonProfitBlvd/bookfreak13/). Look under "my stuff" there, and you will get to them. Feedback is greatly appreciated.
March 16th, 2001, 09:44 AM
I thought of something that might help.
I don't know if you remember this from high school or maybe even grade school, but most stories follow the same pattern:
Although there is always the experimental stuff which ignores this structure, it is a good basis for writing well-balanced stories. You begin by presenting the world and its characters to us, the readers. Then present the complecation, or conflict, that makes your story a story; the obstacle or series of obstacles that you need to throw in the path of your characters just so we can be entertained watching them deal with your hurdles. Then, the rising action. Show us how your characters deal with the lot you've handed them. The climax: the resolution to the major plot questions that your conflict has created. The falling action/denouement wrap up the loose ends and show something of the consequenses of the climax. I'm sure if you took 70% of the novels off your bookshelf and applied this formula, it would fit quite nicely. This might help you determine where you need to "end" your story.
Or as Tom Stoppard says in his play "Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead:"
"Things have gone as far as they can possibly go when things have gotten as bad as they can reasonably get."
So all you need to do is wrestle your story along until you've reached the end, no matter how bad it seems. THEN go back and revise it until it meets with your approval.
[This message has been edited by cassandra (edited March 16, 2001).]
[This message has been edited by cassandra (edited March 16, 2001).]
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