Tag Archives: writing advice

The End is Near! Sort-Of…

At one of the panels for Avalon Expo, someone asked “How do you know when to end a story?”

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I’ve had time to think about it and I thought I’d share some of my current musings. This is especially relevant since the big project I’m working on has spun so far out of control that I have no idea how it’s going to end…  Or if

Honestly, this advice is for me as much as you.

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So, how do I know when to end a story?

Short answer: Mostly intuition.

Long answer: There are a few ways…

  1. I’ve written the ending first.

Usually I know the end before I even start writing. Most of my short stories start out with that final moment, and then I just have to figure out what happens to bring me to that point.  It happened with The Gemini ProjectThe Invisible Boy; and the two horror stories I’m currently working on.

There were a few times where, when I got to the end of a longer story, I realized that the original idea no longer fit and it was going towards a new ending. But that’s not a bad thing – stories change, it happens. Sometimes you plan on killing all of your characters but a few of them end up surviving somehow. But then you write the final line (for the new ending) and you think to yourself “Yeah, that’s a fantastic ending line”. And all is right with the world again.

  1. I’ve written a really good end-line.

I love a good ending line as much as I love a good opening line. In fact, if I write a so-so ending line it bothers me to no end, because I know it can be better. It’s like looking at a row of pencils that aren’t quite perfectly in line….

Some examples are: Virginia Wolfe’s To the Lighthouse: “Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.” And George Orwell’s 1984:He loved Big Brother.” There’s something about those lines that are so final and yet mean so much more.

  1. The story I wanted to tell is over.

Once I wanted a project to have 25 chapters (for symbolic purposes), but when I reached the end of chapter 22 I realized that I was done. My character’s journey had ended. I’d said all I wanted to say about this particular story, and to write any more would do a disservice to the fantastic ending scene I’d just written. Yes, I wanted to continue with these characters, but I knew that it would be best to start a new plot, with new themes and ideas, instead of dragging this one out.

The Hobbit ends when Bilbo returns home; The Fellowship of the Rings ends with the breaking of the fellowship; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ends when Harry’s school term ends.  Even though their stories continue, their current task has ended and it’s time to take a breather before the next adventure.

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Typically, when I plan my ending, I try to resolve matters – either for better or worse. I don’t like leaving huge plot holes or dangling plot threads. It’s fun to have hints and intrigue and something to look forward to, but I’m not happy when the ending to a book is more like the ending to a chapter (yes, there’s a difference – As Fierce As Steel left me wanting more, while Mindspeak made me regret the time I’d spent reading it).

When in doubt, I think of who’s journey this is. Then I try to find a way to bring them to the end point – to let the character finally achieve their goal, or fail horribly, or realize that they need to change their way of thinking.

Originally, I had no idea how to end The Six Elemental. I tried to resolve what I could, while leaving certain things unsaid, but the end just didn’t feel end-y enough.  Finally I thought about Kit’s journey and how she had changed over the course of the story.  I thought about what I was trying to say with this story and made that the ending, so when people close the book that’s the impression they’re left with.

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And with that, I return once more into the void from which I came…

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Lit Wars! Lord of the Rings v. The Dark Tower! | The Writer’s Block

The main event! The one we’ve been teasing since we started announcing panels for the Avalon Expo Writer’s Block is finally here: Lit Wars: Tolkien v. King! 6:00-6:50pm Saturday August 26 at MILE ONE Avalon Expo!

Lit Wars will be an hour-long debate to decide, once and for all, which epic fantasy is better: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or King’s The Dark Tower. Teams of two will head off against one another to defend their respective kingdom and be crowned: the Lit Warrior!

For team Tolkien: Dr. Christopher Lockett, an associate professor of English at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Though his main area of specialization is twentieth century American literature, his enthusiasms (academic and otherwise) range widely into film and television, fantasy, cultural studies, and the ongoing definitions of humanism
And: Ellen Curtis, the editor of Fantasy from the Rock who has been a prolific fantasy author since the age of fifteen and currently writes for the Infinity series, Newfoundland Quarterly Online, and is a member of the WANL Board as Youth Representative.

For team King: Matthew LeDrew, the author of over a dozen books, including Questing the Dark Tower: An essay examining the concept of Stephen King’s Dark Tower as it applies to Derrida’s theory of the Pharmakon.
And: Heather Reilly, author of the Binding of the Almatraek series of YA fantasy novels, and recipient of the Noble Artist’s Author of the Month award for February 2015.

Moderated by Mike Connors of NTV! Watch as this Lit Nerds engage in Lit Warfare and… let’s be honest, it’s Matt and Heather against Ellen and a MUN Prof. You’re coming to watch Matthew get powned… in the nerd battle that will last from the time of Middle Earth until the crumbling of the Dark Tower itself!! Be there!!


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WANL Q&A Panel! | The Writer’s Block

If you’re starting out as an author, you need support: and there’s no better place than WANL: The Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador! Ask any questions you may have of a WANL board member and get them answered! Get a clear focus on what WANL does, and what they can do for you! 4:00-4:50pm, Friday August 25 2017!


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Multiple Author Social Events | The Writer’s Block | Avalon Expo

Along with all the great writing panels at The Writer’s Block this month, there are also tons of great opportunities to relax and be social, and talk one-on-one with your favorite authors! They’re listed below!

Friday Aug 25
6:00pm-8:00pm – Author Social

Saturday Aug 26
10:00am-10:50am – Breakfast Write-In

Sunday Aug 27
10:00am-10:50am – Breakfast Write-In


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Getting Edited! | The Writer’s Block | Avalon Expo

Now that your manuscript is done, get advice on the often overlooked stage of the writing process: editing! Led by three of the genre communities most prominent editors, Erin Vance, AJ Ryan, and Heather Reilly, this panel will take you through how to get an editor, the types of editing, and how to manage the feedback you get from your editor.

Join us Sunday, August 27 from 11am-12:15pm at the Avalon expo Writer’s Block to learn more about this important part of the publishing process! 🙂


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