People watch sport to be entertained and to see who wins and loses. What they dislike is a draw. Readers are the same.
Readers of commercial fiction want to see a winner at the end. Readers of literary fiction are prepared to accept more ambiguity. In either case, the ending must be powerful. Great endings leave the reader satisfied, even if the rest of the book is weak. Weak endings leave the reader disappointed, even if the book was good.
Most of us can write a good beginning. The middle is the most difficult part of a book, but a good ending is essential.
A great ending always:
- Completes your story arc
- Shows a change in your main character
- Satisfies your reader
Sometimes the best stories are the ones that leave you guessing, so don’t be afraid to create some mystery in your conclusion. However, you should make sure the story feels as if it is finished.
You should not work in an artificial twist, or a surprise, in the end, unless the story justifies it. Try not to force the story in a direction. Decide what could or should be the most logical and natural outcome, given the personalities of the characters involved. Don’t make them do things they wouldn’t naturally do.
The goal is to write a story that leaves your reader looking for your name at the end.
There are five basic endings:
- The protagonist wins
- The protagonist loses
- We don’t know if the protagonist wins or loses
- The protagonist wins, but at a moral cost
- The protagonist loses, but with a moral gain
You should decide which ending best suits your story.
Limits of the Human Body by Soda Pop Avenue
Credit goes to SPA, but I wanted this here for a writer’s reference. This way we know exactly how far we can push our characters ;)
Joss Whedon’s 10 Writing Tips
1. FINISH IT
Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.
Structure means knowing where you’re going ; making sure you don’t meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but it’s not as well done today and I don’t recommend it. I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes ? The thrills ? The romance ? Who knows what, and when ? You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around : the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.
3. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ‘What does it feel like to be those guys ?’
4. EVERYBODY HAS A REASON TO LIVE
Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue : you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny ; not everybody has to be cute ; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you don’t know who everybody is and why they’re there, why they’re feeling what they’re feeling and why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble.
5. CUT WHAT YOU LOVE
Here’s one trick that I learned early on. If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favourite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.
When I’ve been hired as a script doctor, it’s usually because someone else can’t get it through to the next level. It’s true that writers are replaced when executives don’t know what else to do, and that’s terrible, but the fact of the matter is that for most of the screenplays I’ve worked on, I’ve been needed, whether or not I’ve been allowed to do anything good. Often someone’s just got locked, they’ve ossified, they’re so stuck in their heads that they can’t see the people around them. It’s very important to know when to stick to your guns, but it’s also very important to listen to absolutely everybody. The stupidest person in the room might have the best idea.
7. TRACK THE AUDIENCE MOOD
You have one goal : to connect with your audience. Therefore, you must track what your audience is feeling at all times. One of the biggest problems I face when watching other people’s movies is I’ll say, ‘This part confuses me’, or whatever, and they’ll say, ‘What I’m intending to say is this’, and they’ll go on about their intentions. None of this has anything to do with my experience as an audience member. Think in terms of what audiences think. They go to the theatre, and they either notice that their butts are numb, or they don’t. If you’re doing your job right, they don’t. People think of studio test screenings as terrible, and that’s because a lot of studios are pretty stupid about it. They panic and re-shoot, or they go, ‘Gee, Brazil can’t have an unhappy ending,’ and that’s the horror story. But it can make a lot of sense.
8. WRITE LIKE A MOVIE
Write the movie as much as you can. If something is lush and extensive, you can describe it glowingly ; if something isn’t that important, just get past it tersely. Let the read feel like the movie ; it does a lot of the work for you, for the director, and for the executives who go, ‘What will this be like when we put it on its feet ?’
9. DON’T LISTEN
Having given the advice about listening, I have to give the opposite advice, because ultimately the best work comes when somebody’s fucked the system ; done the unexpected and let their own personal voice into the machine that is moviemaking. Choose your battles. You wouldn’t get Paul Thomas Anderson, or Wes Anderson, or any of these guys if all moviemaking was completely cookie-cutter. But the process drives you in that direction ; it’s a homogenising process, and you have to fight that a bit. There was a point while we were making Firefly when I asked the network not to pick it up : they’d started talking about a different show.
10. DON’T SELL OUT
The first penny I ever earned, I saved. Then I made sure that I never had to take a job just because I needed to. I still needed jobs of course, but I was able to take ones that I loved. When I say that includes Waterworld, people scratch their heads, but it’s a wonderful idea for a movie. Anything can be good. Even Last Action Hero could’ve been good. There’s an idea somewhere in almost any movie : if you can find something that you love, then you can do it. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter how skilful you are : that’s called whoring.”
FAST AND FURIOUS DEFINITIONS: A GUIDE TO EVERY POLITICAL TERM YOU’LL EVER NEED TO KNOW
Below you’ll find seven hundred and eleven political terms, concepts, and slang words; essentially everything you need to equip yourself and your character for a political encounter, governmental job, or debate (or just to keep you up to date and informed when interpreting political editorials and news.) Terms are presented with a historical/contemporary context when applicable, and slang is marked. Some slang/jargon entries are inherently offensive, so be cognizant of that.
527 Organization - A tax-exempt group organized under section 527 of the US tax code. A 527 can raise money for GOTV efforts, issue advocacy, etc. It may not advocate for or against any particular candidate
absentee ballot - A ballot, usually sent in the mail, that allows those who cannot go to their precinct on election day to vote.
absolutism - The belief that the government should have all the power and be able to do whatever it wants.
acquisitive model - A view of bureaucracies that argues agency heads seek to expand the size, budget, and power of their agency.
actorvist (slang)-An actor who is involved in politics and/or “pet” causes. (like George Clooney is actorvist for Darfur.)
Short-Term Effects of Alcohol
- Slurred speech
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty breathing
- Impaired judgment
- Distorted vision and hearing
- Flushed appearance
- Intense moods
- Lack of coordination and slower reflexes
- Reduced concentration
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Brain damage
- Vitamin B1 deficiency
- Mouth/throat cancer
- Concentration & memory problems
- Within 2-6 hours of the last drink
- Reduced appetite
- Clammy skin
- Rapid heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid emotional changes
- Within 12-24 hours
- Some experience alcoholic hallucinosis, which includes visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations that normally end within 48 hours
- Most are aware that the hallucinations aren’t real
- Within 24-48 hours
- Withdrawal seizures may occur
- Risk is increased after multiple detoxifications
- Within 48-72 hours
- DTs (delirium tremens) may occur
- DTs usually peak at 5 days
- High blood pressure
- Severe tremors
- Irregular heartbeat
- Hallucinations indistinguishable from reality
When is the best time to start revising a manuscript? Largely, usually, most of the time, after the last word of the story has been typed or written. Some writers need to edit as they write, and as long as it isn’t inhibiting actual progress of the word count, this is totally okay. Editing while writing can help more than hurt.
But if you allow yourself to start revising before the story’s finished, and then consequently never finish, it might be because your stream of thought is being attacked by your critical eye. It’s similar to the difference between reading for pleasure and reading critically and analytically. Writing because you love writing should always come first. Writing because you want to write well comes after.
Being hyper critical as you write instead of after you’ve already written can really hinder your writing process. It’s the difference between, “Everything I write sucks” and “I don’t even care if it sucks, I’ll make it better when I’m done,” and it can really get to you. This is why it’s important to keep the writing process and the revising process separate.
Here are a few tips on how to tackle revising, whether you’re still writing or finished:
- Take notes as you write. Instead of stopping your momentum altogether because a change needs to be made in a prior scene, create a new document or a take a notebook and list changes that need to be made during the revision process after the story’s finished. Be specific, mark the exact pages or scenes so you’ll come back and still remember what the heck you were talking about. Then, continue writing.
- Annotate your outline in another color. As you make changes to your story during the writing process, mark your outline so you know exactly what you did and where, maybe even why. (Or, use differently colored post-its or notecards if you use those methods for outlining.) This is an awesome reference for when you come back during the revision process, but it’s also super convenient to refer back to as you’re writing, keeping you from falling into the trap of rereading and slipping into the critical editor mode prematurely.
- If you have trouble keeping yourself from going back to reread, and it’s keeping you obsessed with perfecting those already written pages, consequently impeding your progress, find a way to put your story out of your immediate reach. If you handwrite your pages, stow them away in a highly inconvenient place, under heavy things, or give them to a trustworthy and respectable friend to keep away from you. If you type up your pages, stow them away on a travel drive and do the same. Maybe email it to them. Always have multiple copies, just in case.
- Once you finish, put it away. No matter how tempting it is to reread all your awesome accomplishment, don’t. It’s all still fresh in your brain. Letting yourself forget about it first will sharpen your revision power later and allow you to see your writing and your story with fresh eyes. How long should you wait? I always recommend at least four weeks, so if you finish your NaNoWriMo novel in the month of November, stash it out of reach for the entire month of December. Don’t look at it again until after the new year.
- Separate yourself from the story. Be critical of the story, but not yourself as a writer. Try as much as you can to separate yourself from what you’ve written, to remove your attachments to your writing and the scenes and the characters. For sure, this isn’t an easy process, but training yourself to think this way over time helps you look at the story more objectively, to see it as a story and not an assessment of your weaknesses. Remember that you’re not even the same writer you are at the end of the story as you were at the beginning.
- Before you start revising, create a new copy of the file. Don’t revise the original if you’re new to the revising process. Create a copy and make all changes to the copy, that way you always have the safety net just in case you delete something that you maybe should have kept.
- When revising, show no mercy. First drafts are not perfect. Neither are second drafts. That awesome metaphor you made doesn’t fit in with the mood of the scene? Slice it. That character with the sly wit doesn’t carry their weight enough to be a main character? Cut them, or merge them with another character. A scene isn’t working out? Drifting from the point or running too long or plagued with too much dialogue? Come down hard on it. Rewrite it if you have to. Identify parts of the story that can be improved or expanded or cut, then show no mercy.
- Feeling down about the story? Go to your writing buddies. Have them read and tell you everything they liked about it. It’s completely normal to feel like the story isn’t working, or isn’t good enough, or is too much like other popular books already on the shelves. These thoughts are normal, they happen, even to published authors. Finding supportive writing buddies and asking them to inflate your ego is absolutely okay. Working on one story, spending so much time on it that you’re sick of it like an annoying roommate, can get you down, but don’t let it defeat you.
- Frustrated? Ready to delete everything? Put it away for a while. At this point, you won’t be able to look at the story objectively, and you may do more harm than good during the process. So, stick it out of sight for a while and work on something else in the meantime.
Additional stuff and stuff:
- You’ve finished your manuscript! Now what?
- Understanding Editing: Revising vs. Proofreading
- Editing Checklist
- Revision sucks but doesn’t have to suck
- Five quick steps to get into revising that manuscript
- 25 Steps To Edit The Merciful Suck Out of Your Story
- When to say you’re done revising
- TWC’s Beta List
- Tips on taking critique
- Tips on giving critique
- What to do with bad writing advice
- Additional insight on bad writing advice
As always, good luck!
what do you think the first step would be for someone who wants to try to become published. how difficult do you think it is? is it a lost cause for me to try :(
Well, I can’t say if it’s a lost cause for you to try because I don’t know anything about your writing. It would then be pretty difficult to take a guess.
But, will you be published?
Statistically speaking, at least. More manuscripts are thrown out than are accepted, so the odds are not really in your favor.
But is it a lost cause?
Almost definitely not.
If you’re willing to try really hard, that is. And that’s trying hard at two things: A) becoming a fantastic writer and being able to tell a story masterfully and in ways that people want to read, and B) getting to know the publishing industry and how it works. Get to know the market, get to know what publishers want. And learn from your mistakes.
Here’s some initial reading for you for starting to think about get published:
- Getting a Writing Profession Started
- You’ve Finished Your Manuscript! Now What?
- The Publishing Biz (Again)
- The Difficulty of Publishing a Book: Some Tough Love
- This is a Towel: Queries and Agents
- Unfortunately, This Piece Is Not For Us: Handling Rejection
- 7 Signs You’re Not Ready To Publish
- Genre, Conventions, and Commercial Literature
Publishing a book is not like assembling a piece of furniture. You can’t just set aside a couple of hours on a Saturday and get it done. It’s a long, drawn-out process. Get ready, get willing to slog through it and good luck.
As always, if you have any questions about writing, send us a message!
After constructing over 400(ish) posts on the art of writing, I’ve started to see some patterns. I feel like I’m always mentioning the same things and I worry about repeating myself. However, I realized that I say a few things over and over again because they’re important and they are the building blocks of writing a good story. Researching these topics and coming up with the same results has improved my writing over the past year and a half and I hope I have helped you. As a summary of all these posts, I’ve come up with the 3 biggest writing mistakes that MANY novelists make.
Weak character development
Character development is one of the most important things to focus on when it comes to writing. In order for people to care about your story, they must care about your characters. Do whatever you need to do to work on character development. Read blog posts, get books from the library, fill out character forms, etc. Developing strong characters is so important and crucial to any story. Here are a few posts I’ve done myself to get you started.
Being too wordy, over describing what’s going on, and over writing scenes is something that nearly every writer does. This is okay in your first draft, but you need to remember to edit these things down later. If you can say something in two words instead of a paragraph, do it. Don’t overuse adverbs and adjectives. Describe only what is necessary to your story or else you’ll drag it down and bore your readers.
How much you need to plan can vary, but it’s hard to jump write into a full length novel without any preparation. If you’re having plot problems, this might be because you haven’t planned enough. Take the time to prewrite and brainstorm before you begin writing. It will save you time and frustration later on. If you spend a good amount of time planning, you’ll also get your creative juices flowing. You’ll come up with great ideas that you might have missed otherwise.
This is an ultimate masterlist of many, many resources that could be helpful for writers/roleplayers.
- Improve Your Writing Habits Now
- 5 Ways to Add Sparkle to Your Writing
- Getting Over Roleplaying Insecurities
- Improve Your Paras
- Why the Right Word Choices Result in Better Writing
- 4 Ways To Have Confidence in Your Writing
- Writing Better Than You Normally Do
- How’s My Driving?
- A Description Resource
- 55 Words to Describe Someones Voice
- Describing Skin Colors
- Describing a Person: Adding Details
- Emotions Vocabulary
- 90 Words For ‘Looks’
- Be More Descriptive
- Describe a Character’s Look Well
- 100 Words for Facial Expressions
- To Show and Not To Tell
- Words to Describe Facial Expressions
- Describing Clothes
- List of Actions
- Tone, Feelings and Emotions
- Writing Specific Characters
- Character Guides
- Writing Help for Writers
- Ultimate Writing Resource List
- Lots of RP Guides
- Online Writing Resources
- List of Websites to Help You Focus
- Resources for Writing Bio’s
- Helpful Links for Writing Help
- General Writing Resources
- Resources for Biography Writing
- Mental Ilnesses/Disorders Guides
- 8 Words You Should Avoid While Writing
- Body Language Cheat
- Body Language Reference Cheat
- Tips for Writers: Body Language
- Types of Crying
- Body Language: Mirroring
- Words Instead of Walk (2)
- Commonly Confused Adjectives
- A Guide on Punctuation
- Common Writing Mistakes
- 25 Synoms for ‘Expession’
- How to: Avoid Misusing Variations of Words
- Words to Keep Inside Your Pocket
- The 13 Trickiest Grammar Hang-Ups
- Other Ways to Say..
- 300+ Sophiscated and Underused Words
- List of Misused Words
- Words for Sex
- 100 Beautiful and Ugly Words
- Words to Use More Often
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’ or ‘Laugh’
- Three Self Editing Tips
- Words to Use Instead of ‘Walk’, ‘Said’, ‘Happy’ and ‘Sad’
- Synonyms for Common Words
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’
- Transitional Words
- The Many Faces and Meanings of ‘Said’
- Synonyms for ‘Wrote’
- A Case Of She Said, She Said
- How to: Cure Writer’s Block
- Some Tips on Writer’s Block
- Got Writer’s Block?
- 6 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block
- Tips for Dealing With Writer’s Block
- How to: Make That Application Your Bitch
- How to: Make Your App Better
- How to: Submit a Flawless Audition
- 10 Tips for Applying
- Para Sample Ideas
- 5 Tips on Writing an IC Para Sample
- Writing an IC Sample Without Escaping From the Bio
- How to: Create a Worthy IC Para Sample
- How to: Write an Impressive Para Sample
- How to: Lengthen Short Para’s
- Drabble Stuff
- Prompts List
- Writing Prompts
- Drabble Prompts
- How to Get Into Character
- Writing Challenges/Prompts
- A Study in Writing Prompts for RPs
- Para Prompts & Ideas
- Writing Prompts for Journal Entries
- A List of Para Starters
- Bad Asses
- Bitches (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Emotional Detachment
- The Girl Next Door
- Introverts (2)
- Mean Persons (2)
- Party Girls
- Rich (2)
- Serial Killers (2)
- Shyness (2, 3)
- Villains (2)
- Disorders in general (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Anxiety (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Alice In Wonderland Syndrome
- Bipolar Disorder (2, 3)
- Cotard Delusions
- Depression (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Eeating Disorders (2, 3)
- Facitious Disorders
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Multiple Personality Disorder (2)
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Night Terrors
- Kleptomania (2)
- A Pyromaniac
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (2)
- Sex Addiction (2)
- Schizophrenia (2)
- Sociopaths (2)
- Aspergers Syndrome
- Someone Blind (2)
- Cancer (2, 3)
- Muteness (2, 3)
- Ballet Dancer (2)
- Alcohol Influence (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Cocaine Influence
- Ecstasy Influence (2)
- Heroin Use
- LSD Influence
- Marijuana Influence (2, 3)
- Opiate Use
- California (2, 3)
- England/Britain (2, 3, 4, 5)
- New York
- The South (2)
- A Death Scene
- Loosing Someone (2)
- Old Persons
- Physical Injuries (2, 3)
- Sexual Abuse (2)
- Fight Scenes (2, 3, 4)
→ CREATING CHARACTERS
- Components of Your Biographies
- Character sheet (2, 3)
- Need Help With Character Creation?
- How to: Draw Inspiration for Characters From Music
- How to: Write a Biography (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
- How to: Write a Fully Developed Character
- How to: Create a Cast of Characters (2)
- Writing an Original Character (2, 3)
- Creating Believable Characters (2, 3)
- Bio Formats (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- Little Things You Can Add To Your Bios
- Connections (2)
- Bio Twists
- Jung’s 16 Personality Types
- Underused Character Personalities
- Birth-Order: Personality Traits
- The Difference Between Personality and Behavior
- How to: Show a Characters Personality In a Paragraph
- 16 Character Traits
- Underused PersonalitiesPersonality TraitsHabits
- 300 Possible Secrets to Give Your Characters
- I Bet You Didn’t Know..
- Character Plots And Secrets (2)
- Celebrity Secrets
- Secret Masterlist
- Song Lyrics Masterlist
- Songs for Biographies
- Favorite Quotes: TV and Movies
- Favorite Quotes: Notable Authors
- Favorite Quotes: Celebrities
- Favorite Quotes: Popular Books (2)
- Quotes From Songs
- Character Quotes
- Masterlist of Bio Lyrics
- Masterlist of Bio Quotes
- Masterlist of Song Lyrics
- Biography Lyrics
- A Masterlist of Quotes
- +130 Quotes
- The Quotation Garden
→ WHILE ROLEPLAYING
- 100 Paragraph Titles
- Para Titles - Song Title Edition (2,3)
- A Whole Ton of Para Titles
- 350+ Song Titles
- Para Titles For You (2)
- How to: Create an interesting starter
- How to: Make an Interesting Starter
- Gif Conversations: A Guide
- A Brief Guide to Starters
- Interesting Gif Convesation Starters
- Starters Masterlist
- Gif Starter Posts
- 46 Interesting Gif Chat Starters
- Ideas for Gif Chat Starters
- Masterlist: Jobs
- Possible Careers for Characters
- Artistic Occupations
- Martha’s Vineyard Job Masterlist
- Interesting Jobs
- Para Ideas
- Masterlist: Para Ideas
- Top 50 Places for Starters
- Writing Topics: Para Ideas
- 101 Date Ideas
- 68 Date Ideas
- 22 Date Ideas
- Popular Places to Eat
- Character Development Questionaire
- Character Surveys
- C.D. Questionaire
- 30 Day Character Development Meme
- Character Development Questions (2)
- 100 Pt. Questionaire
- IC and OOC Surveys
- Online Test for Character Building
- 30 Days of Character Development
- How to: Develop Characters
- Get To Know Your Characters
Romance (in general)
- The Little Ways a Ship Gets Build
- Roleplaying Relationships
- 8 Ways to Say I Love You
- How to: Make a Set Ship RP Work
- How to: Write a Romantic Scene
- Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Relationships
- Putting a Label on It
- Synonyms for Love
- Pregnancy (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Smut Guide: Casual Sex
- Smut Guide: For Beginners
- How to: Write a First Time Sex Scene Romantically
- How to: Smut - The Bare Bones
- How to: Smut (For Virgins)
- How to: Write Lesbian Smut
- How to: Write Smut (2, 3)
- How to: Write a Blowjob/Prepping for Smut
- Smut Guides of Tumblr
- Tips on Writing Sex Scenes
- A Guide to Language in Smut
- Domination and Submission
- Making Love
- A Smut Guide
- How to: Create the Best Plot for Your RP
- How to: Create A Plot Outline in 8 Steps
- How to: Write A Plot in 12 Steps
- How to: Write A Quality Plot
- How to: Spice Up Your Roleplay Plots
- Components of Your Plot Page
- Writing Up A Plot
- Basics of Writing A Plot
- Links for Plot Writing Help
- Eight Unique Plot Ideas
- Plot Twists
- Situation Ideas (2, 3)
- Guide to Plotting