Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Story Seed / Writing Tip # 8 - Find a Great Ending!

For the next few months my blog will be featuring 1) the tiny, real-life seed from which one of my stories unfolded and 2) a writing tip that helped the seed grow into a finished story.  

The Seed:  My central character was a 100-year-old talking cat on his ninth life. As you can probably guess, if the cat was on his ninth life it meant that the story teller (me!) pretty much had to kill him off in the final chapters of the book.
(c) 2013 Ruth Ohi
        Somewhere around chapter 7, however, I realized this was a story I was never going to finish. I simply could not bear the thought of killing this cat! I'd have to give up on the book entirely.
         Suddenly, however, a small idea jumped forward.  Maybe there was a way I could keep the story completely honest, fulfill the "nine lives" scenario and ensure that no animal died in the telling of the tale.
          I began to write again with renewed energy and determination.  This was a story I would definitely finish after all!

The Book: A Cat of Artimus Pride (Annick Press1991, illustrations by Ruth Ohi, novel ages 8 - 11)

The Writing Tip: Do you have trouble finishing your stories? The best writing tip I know for people who start stories and never finish them is to sit down and think up a truly great ending. But don`t stop with only thinking of it -- actually write that part of the story. It can be a few lines, a paragraph, maybe an entire page but at least get something written down. The physical writing will help your ending become a strong and concrete goal.
         Is it even possible to write the ending of a story when you haven't finished the in-between bits?  Of course it is!  It's another way I keep energy in my novels.  I write the fun parts, the exciting parts.  I let the energy of those moments spill out onto the page and grow in all directions.  I will, of course, need to add connective bits at a later time -- but often not as much as I think. 
        Besides resolving the plot, here are my three favourite things to incorporate into the ending of any story:
           - an element of surprise
           - a revealing shift at the core of the central character
           - and (if the story can possibly carry it) a touch of humour.
And yes, some stories must have sad endings. But not this one!

  (c) All Rights Reserved. All blog text(except comments by others) copyright Hazel Hutchins.

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