Monday, December 3, 2012

What's harder, beginnings or endings?


Most people start a new novel for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). That's what you are SUPPOSED to do, according to the rules.

I used it to finish a novel, this year (my YA SF, Star Tripped).

I thought it would be...easier. I already know my characters (or so I thought). I knew my setting. I knew *most* of my plot. Granted, all these things are constantly evolving during the writing process, but having a detailed outline to work off of and a good handle on the first half of this novel, I was sure NaNoWriMo this year would be a breeze.

Cue sighs of frustration, hair-pulling and the constant temptation to buy chocolate and cheetos to get me through yet another difficult scene. For one agonizing stretch of three days, I couldn't write at all (except in a journal format, possibly breaking more NaNoWriMo rules).

I managed to get through it, with much brainstorming and several scenes written purely on a "trial and error" basis, and some frantic stretches of writing to get caught up.

And now I officially think endings are harder than beginnings, because:

1) you have to tie your character's internal arc into the plot's turning points or high and low points

2) you have to ratchet up the tension near the end to breathless levels

3) you can wing a lot of things in the first half of novel because you're assuming you'll have it all figured for the second half. Hah.

4) you have to tie your plot strings together logically. Defensibly. Hah hah.

5) you have to account for all your characters and sub plots. How did this get so complicated?

6) your outline fails you at the end. You thought you had it all worked out, but when the rubber hits the road, it's a whole different story.

Almost literally, a whole different story.

One thing I am still sure of: NaNoWriMo rocks. I love my NaNo buddies. Leslie Rose, Highland Writer, Susan Kaye Quinn, Sunshine 21, Vicki Tremper, you guys and your progress bars kept me going. Really. Thank you, even when I wanted to kill you for almost always being ahead of me. (Except for Susan. Everyone needs a come-from-behind hero).

And you know that feeling when you write the last sentence of your novel?  If you don't, keep at till you get there. Because it is amazing. There are no words to really capture it - and I've been through 50,000 words lately.

here's my last line:

“Don’t worry,” I say with a smile, sure of myself. “He’ll come back.” 

So what do you think is harder, beginnings or endings?

28 comments:

  1. Yes, completely agree that endings are more difficult. They're also around the time when you're ready to get the thing done already! CONGRATS on NaNo and 50,000 words. That is incredible and I hope you celebrated for it. Let me know if you ever want a fresh pair of eyes during revisions. I'm so proud of you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aw, thanks so much for the shout out! You kept me going too, and were more motivating than anyone else can possibly know.

    I agree that there's a lot to an ending, but I find I rewrite beginnings way more often than endings. And for me it's the middle that's hardest during NaNo. During the 2nd-3rd weeks I hate my novel and want to stop and really have to force the words out. But the climax poured right out of me.

    I'm going to take your suggestion and reread The Hunger Games for my "I" problem. We should coordinate those craft posts - but it could take me a while.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yep, I totally agree that endings are harder than beginnings. Endings drive me crazy and I'm up to my 3rd rewrite on one particular ending that's refusing to behave, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yay, Margo! Woot!


    Endings. Totally.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's what I'm going to do next November I think, if I don't get around to it this coming summer. I am going to try to finish the novel I started a few years ago during NaNoWriMo.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hurray for making it!!!
    And I agree, endings are MUCH harder. And after all the work, you finish, and feel slightly depressed and ecstatic all at once. Which is a weird mix of emotions to have...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Congratulations!! Wonderful news.


    Endings are tough for me too. I'm not quite sure if it's because everything is so complicated, or if it's because by the end the story had sapped every bit of creative energy from my soul. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Writing the last sentence of a novel is a weird mix of emotions to say the least. And I personally think whatever I'm working on at the moment is the hardest part. A few weeks ago it was revisions and edits. A few months ago it was endings. Starting book two now, so this week the hardest thing is beginnings. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congrats at succeeding at NaNo, despite the difficulties! ~\o/~


    As for Beginnings Vs. Endings, I personally find beginnings more difficult. There are countless ways that a story can start, and all those possibilities can be paralyzing, to say the least. However, with endings, by the time I actually reach one, all that's been written before pretty much solidifies which direction it should go in, so it's much easier for me, even when it's still not easy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I definitely think endings are harder. Readers allow a bit of time for the start to get going, but by the end the expectations are sky high for a satisfying climax. I always try to have an ending in mind before I start 9even if it's just to kid myself I know where I'm going).

    mood
    Moody Writing

    ReplyDelete
  11. Congrats on winning NaNoWriMo! I think both beginnings and endings can be hard. I spent a lot of time revising both in my manuscript.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Margo, congratulations!! I agree with you in that endings are MUCH harder than beginnings. In addition to everything you've said may be the psychological aspect of it. When you start, you don't have much to lose, you're just exploring a new story. But by the time you have to finish it you've invested hours, days, months, (years?) of work. There's a lot more at stake. Not to mention you can start in a variety of ways but the ending has to be perfect *and* emotionally satisfying for the reader (that's a lot of pressure!)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Elisabeth KauffmanDecember 5, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    I am awesome at beginnings. Hence the strong start to NaNo this year... I suck at endings. So much harder to stay invested, especially if you know you're going to kill one (or more) of the characters off... Middles are hard, too... I thought knowing how I was going to end my novel would make it easier to get there. Yeah. I was wrong. But! I haven't given up hope. I will write this novel and write it well.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Umm, I think ALL of it is hard, LoL! Actually it really depends on the story. Sometimes the beginning is tougher, sometimes the end.


    Congrats on finishing NaNo!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. True story. There are stretches that come easily to me, but it's not easy to guess where those easy stretches will show up!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ah yes, the problem of killing characters - I just killed two of them during NaNo. What keeps me going with those characters is the desire to make the reader get attached to them, so that when they get killed, ouch!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I always have an ending in mind too as a general goal, but getting it to be a surprise or to have a twist... that's what drives me crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  18. oh don't even get me started on edits and revisions! You're right those are the worst :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. First draft beginnings are easy for me, but the problems you mention - that's why the beginnings always get me with revisions!!! I revise the beginnings ten times more than endings.

    ReplyDelete
  20. depressed and ecstatic - perfect description. we are such weird mixed up creatures aren't we, as writers?

    ReplyDelete
  21. I find I need more time to write endings, probably because i have to recharge that creative energy you mentioned!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yes! I believe in totally abusing/manipulating NaNo in anyway that results in more writing!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am *dying* to send you something to read...if I could just get it cleaned up! (these NaNo events tend to get me off track)

    ReplyDelete
  24. THat's why it was nice "splitting" the middle between the first half I did earlier this year and the second half I did for NaNo, because middles are hard. It helped that I put a huge twist right in the middle

    ReplyDelete
  25. love it when writers refer to their novels as being alive and full of attitude! Hear, hear!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Congratulations Margo!
    I find beginnings and endings equally challenging.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Congratulations, Margo! I think beginnings are easier; at least during the first draft, there's no wrong way to start, but by the end, well, you have to wrap everything up and have the characters act in ways that fit them. Or you can have them wake up and realise everything was a dream...

    ReplyDelete
  28. Congrats, Margo!!!!

    You have a very good point. Until now, I though beginnings were tough because it's so easy to start in the wrong place, and you have to grab the reader's attention ASAP. But now that you've mentioned it, ending ARE tough, too, when you consider all those things that are important.

    And lets not go into how difficult the the middle part is. :P

    ReplyDelete

Followers

Follow by Email

My Blog List