No, I’m not talking about the movie. If I was, I’d give the philosophical answer: it will only end with children’s imagination. Of course, that would also discredit me as the solemn, serious personage I’m trying to make myself out to be and chuck me into the crowd that came up with the idea for Barney.
But, no, I’m talking about that thousand page epic fantasy tucked away into a folder somewhere on your computer, or in a drawer somewhere. I’m also talking about the half a dozen or more stories you have that you know you’ll finish someday (once you get over that writer’s block or whatever your reasoning is). I’m also talking about you lot of people who just get ideas like a spray-and-pray Halo player and so you write them all down, maybe write a few scenes, and then give way to your ADD tendencies and move on to the next idea.
In short, I’m talking to the lot of you that have never finished a story.
You know who you are.
So, how do you finish a story? How do you control your ADD and/or finally find the right place to wrap up your epic novel?
Well, as to the ADD factor, refer to my Writing Tidbit on writer’s block. The idea of butt-in-chair-hands-on-keyboard. You just have to force yourself through it, friends. Get on your big-kid pants and glue yourself down if you have to, but get it done. If you really do have ADD, and I’m talking the kind you need to be medicated for or you can’t be a well-functioning individual of society, then you should probably choose another career.
As to all ya’ll that fit into the second category of being unable to find a place to stop, you need to first dig out what was your first plotline. Have someone help you, if you can, but usually those who have never ending stories are those who abandon their first conflict or plot to another one while they were writing. An example of this is if I were writing about Frodo (Lord of the Rings), and destroying the ring. The first plot was to destroy the ring, right? That’s the main plot of the book. But say that, well, Frodo happens to stumble upon Link from Legend of Zelda and then you get on this whole new other plot as to what the hell Link is doing in Middle Earth anyways. That’s going to make your book get pretty long.
Another problem that can happen from not knowing the placement of your first plot is also not knowing where it may have ended. If you have already solved your first plot or conflict and just continued on writing, you’ve already written the ending of a book. The first book of a series, to be precise. So find where it ends, kerchop, and then figure out the original plot to your second book.
Now that we’re talking about series, it gets kind of messy. Let’s get back to Lord of the Rings. Dear J.R.R. Tolkien actually had the disease of the never-ending-epic-fantasy. It was only with the help of a well-meaning editor at the publishing house that brought about the trilogy as we know it. In series, there is an over arching plot that ties the book together. Smaller plots, that uphold the bigger plot or cause obstacles in concluding the first plot, make up each individual book. To figure out the tying plot of each book, just look at the titles of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Fellowship of the Ring (Frodo is a freaking hobbit, he can’t make it to Mordor all by himself. Thus, the plot of needing to find the appropriate help). Twin Towers (dealing with that git Saruman who got addicted to Netflix bingeing and decided the darkside gave him more opportunities to be a couch potato–it’s too hard to not be anyways–good guy betrayal, so how do we get the ring to the mountain now?). And so on and so forth. You can use any series as an example. Harry Potter? Defeating Voldemort. But he needs to survive growing up to the point where he can actually face up to Voldemort, and so you go through each year he has until adulthood as a book. If it was just beating Voldemort, you’d get the seventh book with some adaptation and be done. The growing up really makes the Harry Potter series. However, if you haven’t even managed to figure out how to confidently finish a book, then you better stick with one plotline and not try any Harry Potters.
You’re probably going to need some outside help when dissecting your big epic baby. Even world-renown surgeons have help, right? When you’re so up close and personal, sometimes you can’t see the obvious. So, get a word savvy friend or an editor to help you split it up.
If, however, you have the first problem, where you simply have lost track of your first plot, you need to get back to that first plot. Solve that first plot and then end the story. Ending is important. You need to do that first. Then you’re probably going to have to go back and cut out all the second plot stuff. Or the third plot stuff. Or the fourth. If you just can’t handle the viscera of cutting so much out of your story, then you’re going to have to figure out how to fit it into a series of books rather than just one.
I hope this all helped. Eventually I’ll go back to this blog and read over it and scream over all the typos I made. Until then, feel free to laugh at me, but I hope my advice helps all the same. I have to end books every other week, so these are just a few tools I’ve found to help me.
Peace out, ya’ll! And have fun!