Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How to end a novel

I found this article on novel endings and it was incredible helpful.

I decided to extrapolate the key facts and place them here as a lovely reminder. Because I really need to start thinking about my ending before I start editing.

The commandments of great endings:
1. Tie up all lose ends
At the end of the book, make sure to tie up all the loose ends except for one so that you leave the readers wanting more (particularly if you're writing a sequel).

2. Make the ending inevitable
Readers should feel like there is no other possible ending based on the character's choices and scenes leading up to it.

3. Characters choices lead to the ending
The ending should come as the result of choices made by the characters. It should be foreshadowed in the scenes that come before it.

4. Something must end
Even if you are working on a series, something must be resolved by the end of the book. Whether subplot or a plot thread. The circumstances must also end, so if there is a sequel, those circumstances will be different.

5. Something must change
Avoid endings where nothing changes. Whether it is character personalities, emotions, viewpoints or political systems--change something. Otherwise, your reader just wasted a lot of time.

6. The main character must change
Which means the character guiding the story (narrator or focal character) must change in one way or another.

7. Avoid Deux ex Machina
Do not let a natural phenomenon or coincidence solve the dilemmas of your story. The Greeks may have gotten away with it, but you cannot.

As my current ending is pretty darn awful, these rules will be very helpful. In fact, I plan to focus on how my story will end first and then work backwards.

We'll see how that goes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Making it serial...part 2

So right now I'm thinking about my book in two ways [just set plans yet].

1. Cram it all into two or three books.
2. Adjust the story to make it fit a serial format.

It really could go one way or the other, as both options have their positives and negatives.

If I go with option one, I have to streamline the story and really trim it down so that it's not overwhelming, but it means only splitting it between two novels instead of multiples. So I'm still going to be limited.

If I go with option two, I can take my time and really explore my world and characters--the question is would people want to read the series beyond the first book? If that's not the case, then I don't really get to tell my story.


On another side note, I finally finished 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which I began before Nano--it's one of my required books before I can read my novel. I will be posting my reviews/comments about these books in the Excerptlopedia as I finish them.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Making it serial...part 1

YA novels generally run 40,000-75,000 words, but you’ll find books on either side of that. Write the story in the length it takes to tell it, and then check publishers’ guidelines.

Yowza...and my current story is about 139k.

So I've begun thinking about this serial story thing as a possibility. I just think that there can be a lot of adventure to be had and I'm probably going to need a few novels to tell it--especially if the cap is at 80k.

But that means a lot of restructuring...and that brings up a lot of questions.

1. Where do I end the story?
2. If I end it before she leaves the Orvilles, what is the focus of the first story?
3. How do I keep each serial from getting too cliche?
4. Where does it all end--when she finds her father?
5. Am I losing too much of the original Greek myth after the first book?
6. What happens when she finds her father?
7. What is the formula for the novels? Is there one?
8. What are the other novels based around?

I've got a lot of thinking to do.

Monday, January 12, 2009

That is a long story...

So I printed my novel today--all 181 pages [double sided because I wanted to save a few trees] of size ten, single spaced text. And boy is it a whopper. It's thicker than my manuscript from Nano '07 [which was single sided and doubled spaced], which is really saying something.

As tempting as it is, I will not get to read it until February 6th as I have planned. However, I must admit to sneaking a little peak when I got home--only a couple of pages--before I put it away.

I also had a little talk with Penny about what to do with the length of my story and she suggested breaking the novel up into shorter serial books. I will definitely consider it.

Well that's all for now.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Time to feed my mind...

So after feeling a bit lost, I decided to do some reading. Part of me has been nervous about reading again because I kept comparing my novel to other ones--mine always ending up as the stupid one. I began with Tales with Beedle and the Bard, which was really nice.

And now that my appetite for literature has awoken, I decided to take a little trip to the San Francisco Public Library. Anyway, I came out with a couple books (all under my required reading for my hiatus from novel writing):

1. The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England by Kristine Hughes
2. Food and Cooking in Victorian England (A History) by Andrea Broomfield
3. Inside the Victorian Home (A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England) by Judith Flanders

1. Larklight (A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space) by Philip Reeve
2. Homunculus by James P Blaylock

Add to this (what I already have)
20,000 Leagues under the Sea [which I'm in the process of finishing]
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Plot & Structure
Characters & Viewpoint
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler
Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K Hamilton

January and February should be pretty busy. All in all I'm excited for my adventures of the literary kind.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I feel a little lost...

I have no idea why, but all day I didn't know what to do with myself. It was like something was missing. Whatever it is, I need to get out of this funk, because school starts today.

Maybe I need to read a book or do some drawings. Or I could distract myself with gaming or see a movie in the theatres [Twilight?]. I do have some sewing projects I could start working on...

Or maybe--just maybe--I need to spend a little time thinking about my characters but outside the book. Perhaps complete withdrawal is a bit too much.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The End.

I did it. I finished a novel for the first time in my life.

It took two months, six days and eleven hours, but the first rough draft of my novel is done. I say first rough draft because although I've written "the end" there are plenty of missing parts in the story itself. The biggest one being Olivia's memory of her Icarus like fall.

And the novel, if one read it now, could easily cause your eyes to bleed. Not all of it is that bad--in fact I really like some of the scenes. But there are a lot of sections that suffer from lack of description, crappy dialogue and scenes so cut/mashed together that they are the literary versions of Frankenstein's monster.

My final stats
Word count: 146,270
Pages: 448(at 11pt Tahoma, double spaced)
Characters dead: 0 [crazy, huh?]

So what's next?

1. A Break
I promised myself a long time ago that I would take a month off before reading my novel again. So I'm going to back up the files, print it out and then put it away until February 6th.

2. Reading
The deal is that I need to read at least three books before I can edit my story. I haven't read anything while I was writing--mostly to keep my inner editor in check--and now I don't remember what a good novel looks like. I plan to read from three categories:

a. Comedic novels/Novels with good narration (especially if it's of the omniscient, third person, all knowing type with a personality ala The Hitchhiker's Guide or A Series of Unfortunate Events).

b. Period/Victorian/Steampunk novels (as I really need a strong idea of the genre I'm trying to invoke and I haven't read any Steampunk novels yet).

c. Novel-writing/Reference/Historical novels (for research reasons as it will only make my world and characters more believeable and interesting).

3. Brainstorming/What ifs
Even before I finished my novel, I started thinking about alternate plot lines and options--even new characters. I figure that it will make it easier when I rework the plot for the second draft.

4. World/Character building
This is everything from character profiles and memories, world histories and maps to sketches and photographic references. My first draft is severely lacking in visual descriptions and I really want to fix that. Likewise, the more I delved into character histories the more real and three dimensional they became.

5. Editing
This won't happen until March, although I might start a little in February after I've done the first read though.

I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Rocks fall. Everyone dies. The end

I was fighting the urge to write that all night and then:

“But you heard what Cromwell said. Others will come.”
“And he was right, you know.” Thomas said softly as he put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “They won’t let you go without a fight, Vincent. Sooner or later the agency will send someone else for you. And in the end, you’ll never be at peace.”
“I know.” Vincent said bitterly. “But what can we do?”

The solution to the problem was this. Rocks fall. Everyone dies.

The End.

Yeah...not really the ending of my story. I actually have one last scene to write, which is the actual ending. And I have two options for my ending:
A. Olivia, Artemus and her father leave the city, hoping to hide from the others for as long as they can. Perhaps taking them to interesting new locations.
B. Olivia and her father decide to stay and enjoy what tiny bit of a normal life they can have until the others come.

In both cases, being found is inevitable. I had always planned it to be option A and then I was like..."Why not stay? That's pretty ballsy."

But when it all comes down to it--it doesn't matter because my story will probably not even end with that option. Who knows.

Disregard the options. Hell disregard the excerpt--cuz it's horrible. But that's what you get when you are writing at 4am in the morning instead of sleeping. Blah why can't I stop writing this blog entry.

I know!


Monday, January 5, 2009

As I lay my novel down to sleep...

...I pray to the writing lords my sanity to keep.

Tonight's the night I am supposed to finish my novel. I will be keeping a running tally of my progress throughout the evening. And for my sake the night is not over until I go to sleep--hopefully after typing the words "The End".

8:40pm: 138,644 [Artemus and Olivia are speaking with Vincent Wells]

9:24pm: 139,339 [Olivia lets daddy in on the mistake she made...the one that started this whole adventure]

10:29pm: 140,008 [Olivia begs her father to destroy his last invention]

12:18am: 141,556 [Olivia and Cromwell meet again]
Gah! I am typing so slowly!

1:18am: 142,159 [Cromwell meets Vincent again]
Why can't I type faster?!!

2:11am: 142,610 [Olivia gets the upper hand]
500 words, epic fail

4:11am:144,860 [Cromwell is arrested and friends are reunited]
Still slow as hell, but as I've basically reached the end, I shall call it a night.

What ifs rearing their ugly head as I near the end

So I'm making progress, in fact the final scene is just around the corner. Olivia has reunited with her father and all seems well [for now].

But despite my currently planned ending, part of me is coming up with different ending options [some which may be better than what I'm currently writing].
I know that part of this is my mind trying to stop me from finishing, but it's also rather useful suggestions that might be great to try out once I'm editing.

Nevertheless, I've been good. I just write the ideas down and keep focused on the ending I have. If I deviate now, I'll never finish before the end of Monday.

And I will.

Word count: 137,702
Scenes left: 6
Days left: 1

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Getting there.

So the ugly scene is finally over! And it was a really long one. I am heading back to SF today, which means a day on the train. Hopefully I will spend that day writing the rest of the novel. But we'll see.

Days left: 2
Scenes left: 9
Words written: 133,292

I'll post once I get back into San Francisco, hopefully I'll have made a lot of progress.

Until then.

Back in San Francisco and finally able to type up my notes.
Word count: 136,546

Friday, January 2, 2009

A new year and more writing

So I've been diligently keeping to my plan to get this thing written by Jan 5th.

Current word count: 132,237

Still tackling that one behemoth of a scene, but for once it's moving along. Gonna be a really long scene when it's done. Anyway, I should be done with it soon enough and moving on to the next ones.

I'm doing it.

Tomorrow/today is gonna be crunch day.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The year may be over, but I'm not done yet.

So yeah...technically won NaNoFiMo at the required 30k, but my story isn't done yet. I'm so close that it's frustrating but time was not exactly on my side.

So I revise my goal as we enter this new year and make two new year resolutions:
1. I will finish my first draft by January 5th come hell or high water.
2. I will have a readable draft by April [as Penny and I have already agreed to trade].

Word count at the year end: 130,574
Chapters/scenes to go: 11

I can do this.

Happy New Years everyone!


Related Posts with Thumbnails