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Knowing the end before writing?

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Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:29 am
Fizz says...

I recently read that one of the most important parts of writing is to know how something will end before you even start to write, and it had really been bothering me because I honestly just don't do that.

Maybe it's because I write short stories, but I have only once started a piece knowing how it will end. Sometimes I don't even know what the story is about when I start writing, the whole thing just forms itself. I think I would be sitting around forever without ever writing anything if I had to think of a full idea before I started to write.

What do you think? Do you plan the end before you start to write? And how often do you change the end before you get there?

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Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:03 pm
catherinemurder15 says...

:D If you ask me, I never plan my end when I start my story. Even if I form the climax I would probably change it as I move on with the story. I have also read about beginning with the end. :smt119 I tried it but I end up changing the climax. I have no clear idea.
In my opinion, just begin your story and let all the ideas flood into your brains by which as you near the end the story is full of twists and turns. That makes the book more entertaining. :smt040

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Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:41 pm
Rosendorn says...

I tend to plan the ending, although I have one novel that is flat out refusing to be planned out properly. The ending I've been forced to leave up in the air because of what could happen earlier in the story.

I think it depends on the story and the writer. I've seen many a writer who doesn't plan out the story the first time around, while others work from both ends at once. It's really all about the writer.
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Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:05 am
Carlito says...

I typically have a general idea of where I want the story to go and a rough idea of how I want it to end (happy, sad, cliffhanger...) before I start so I have direction going into it. The finer details of the ending don't usually come out until I start working on the story.

I think it depends on the story though and if it's going to be a larger work or something small. If you're making a trilogy or series, it would probably be helpful to know how each story will end so your reader will keep their interest going into the next one and the whole, collective thing has a direction. Same with mystery/thrillers it would be beneficial to know from the beginning how all of the parts work together so you can provide really good clues along the way. But for a lot of stories, I think as long as you have a general idea of how you want the story to end and then figure out the details as you go, it works just fine, but to each their own.
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Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:57 pm
Dynamo says...

Knowing where your story will end is very helpful in my opinion. If you know the ending then you have a goal and you know where your character has to eventually end up. From there it becomes a matter of getting your character there. I find structure to be very helpful when writing a book. If there's a goal in mind the story becomes much more interesting than if it's just the main character wandering all over the place until you decide it's time for the story to end. It's important to know where you're going so you can build tension until you get to the big climax at the end. The end isn't supposed to be just some guy the main character has to beat in order to save the girl, it has to be culmination of all the events and struggles the MC went through to get to that point, where he can put all the knowledge from the lessons he learned along the way to good use. If writing a book was as easy as just writing whatever comes to your mind everyone would be doing it. Creativity is important, but there has to be rules and guidlines you need to follow in order to give structure to all of it.

Regardless of what I said, though, catherinemurder15 has some validity. You can very well plan your ending while writing your book instead of before. As she pointed out, better ideas may spring to mind and you might end up changing the climax all together. But, that's not to say you can't change things if you do plan ahead like I do. I had a specific outline of my story's plot, and I've revised and changed it multiple times during the writing of the actual book to suit the story's needs. I'm simply saying it's important to have a place to start, even if you do end up changing it later.
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Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:23 pm
ArahAkachi1 says...

If you can know when and how your story will end, it will give you a much better way to write it to have it end up that way. It's like knowing the beginning to. If you don't know the beginning or plot, you won't have a good idea on how to end it properly.
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Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:05 pm
ArahAkachi1 says...

Also, I have found a article on ways to finish your novel.
It will help you by filling out a few of your questions.
Writing your name can lead to writing sentences. And then the next thing you'll be doing is writing paragraphs, and then books. And then you'll be in as much trouble as I am!

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Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:38 pm
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RacheDrache says...

Personally, I prefer to know as little about what happens in my novel as possible. If I know everything, I have no reason to write... other than to write it.

For me, I just like discovering the plot as I write. Sometimes i know vaguely what's going to happen. Often times, chapter five doesn't match up with chapter one because things change so fast and I discover more and more. But that's why editing exists.

So, write however you want to write it. Whether that's knowing everything or basically nothing or something in between.
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Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:19 pm
stargazer9927 says...

I like to plan everything out beforehand, but I didn't used to do that and I've liked the results from it. It makes it easier to add in things and make them tie in together. My one novel I've been working on for years I didn't have it planned out first and the first part of it shows the results from that. I had to go back and edit A LOT, because nothing flowed.

I recently just decided to change a big thing in one of my other novels and that's caused tons of problems. Having it planned out is so much easier and then the final result is better. That's not saying you should add things in on a whim. I do that all the time, but having it planned out makes it easier to add in things in my opinion.
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Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:53 am
AlfredSymon says...

Personally, I think both ways are fine. To finish the tale beforehand or write everything that goes. I think it can be based on the genre you're writing. If you're writing mystery, finishing beforehand is very much advisable because of the many twists and turns and subplots. Stories like romance takes up time. Everything you write down matters.

It can also be based on how the author thinks. :D
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Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:35 pm
Sureal says...

If you don't know how your story is going to end, how are you going to structure and pace it well?

I suppose the obvious answer is 'lots of rewrites and editing'. Which is perfectly fine, but I feel like you could save so much time and effort (and wasted words - it can be painful scrapping large chunks of your story and replacing them with something else) if you'd just taken the time to plan out your story beforehand.
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Sun Feb 19, 2012 5:23 am
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Tenyo says...

I plan out my stories in the same way I plan out my life (not very well, it seems.)

Take a look at my rhetorical character, for example. He wanted to travel the world, taking off in autumn, until he realised someone has got to look after his little brother and feed the pets and check up on grandma every once in a while.

So he changed his plans. He would wait another two years to save up, giving him more money for spends, and tying up any remaining commitments.

Three months later he fell head-over-heals in love, and his dreams of a world tour turned to dreams of a cruise with his fiance. When she got pregnant he was so happy he would have settled for a paddling pool in their back yard if it meant their son could be there. He still had big dreams, just not the same ones as before.

Philosophical rhetorical mush aside, plans change. People turn up unexpectedly, plots thicken, twists spring out of nowhere. It's good to have an aim to push your characters towards, but it's alright to change that aim five or six times before you reach the end of the story. It's how things work.

Imagining what will happen later in your story is half of the fun of plotting, the other half is watching it change without you even realising it.
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