You probably want the events of the resolution and climax, (the ‘something changes’) and the ending to be close together.
And the ending doesn’t need a lot of words.
So you really don’t have a ton of work to day today.
The momentum has gone out of the story after the ‘something changes’ is resolved, and now you simply want to spend a moment with the reader, letting them have their “Oh WOW” moment before they turn the page.
The purpose of the ending is to
Reinforce the meaning of what’s come before
Validate the emotions you’ve stirred up in the reader
Pull the rug out from under them with a piece of information that changes their understand of everything that’s come before, and/or
Give them a moment to breathe and enjoy it…and think about how amazing you are!
(No pressure, right?)
When you have finished the ending, go back and look at your opening.
Make the ‘story question’ more obvious to the reader?
Add some character traits: a gesture, some language they always use, something else?
Insert some imagery (colors, metaphors, other symbols) that you will go on to use in the story?
This is where you earn your reputation for being a brilliant writer (“How did she do that? Start the story with that image that kept cropping up and ended up being so meaningful? What a genius!”).
I promise not to tell the reader that you added it later, if you don’t!
A Surprise Invitation
I almost never do this, but tomorrow I’ll be inviting you to submit your story to me for some feedback.
I’m not promising to give feedback on every story or to critique them in their entirety.
But I am looking for stories I can use to highlight ways that you’re writing well, and ways we all might strengthen a draft.
On Saturday you’re invited to an event where I’ll share some portion of a few stories and review them with an eye to making us all better writers.
Will you commit to sending me your story? However first-draft-y? However unfinished? Will you commit to taking this next step on the path to being a writer: sharing your work?
I hope you will
Come back TOMORROW (Thursday) for some tips on how to get your story ready to submit and for a big, friendly button you can push to submit your story.
Then show up on Saturday (watch your email for that invitation) to see if i have anything to say about your story.
(Not all stories will be chosen (I expect quite a flood) and I won’t share the whole story. A replay will be available for a few days.)
You made it to Day 5.
I am so proud of you.
I knew you could do this (even if you didn’t)
I believe that you can spend some time today finishing your story, and tomorrow getting it ready to send to me.
I hope to see you back here tomorrow, and again on Saturday.
PS Bring a friend! You know, that friend who’s always saying they want to write but never actually does anything about it? Yeah, bring that friend!
Today we’re writing the middle and pivoting towards the ending.
Today is probably going to be your heaviest day of writing. Don’t give up!
Here’s a snapshot of what’s ahead for you, when you stick to your commitment and put your writing-self first:
“Mine is a reignited soul” – Faith
“My day job seems easier when the writing is going well.” – Marta
“Today I feel ready to write, to keep writing. I see that it can be done in small and consistent pieces… I can keep going! And I’ll save reminders of this feeling in visible places.” – Rory
“I am enjoying this multi-pronged challenge! It refocuses my ADHD tendencies, hehe” – Yvonne
“This has been just the tonic I needed” – Crystal
“I am feeling pumped to continue working on this.”- Val
“I finished a story for the first time in years and had fun checking out the comments every day… There are a lot more stories floating around in my head and I’d like to get them out on paper.” – Stephanie
Doing this work together makes it even more fun, so be sure to leave a comment and reply to some of the other writers in our community!
the first sequence where you’re reacting to the opening of the story and exploring how your character (this specific character at this specific moment in their life) reacts;
the next sequence, taking your character into the next moment, and exploring how they react.
As you write, take breaks–especially between sequences.
Walk around. Take a shower. Dust off the exercise bike. Do the dishes…whatever you need to do to get away from the story for a minute or two and let your mind wander. (But keep your mind on your story)
Remember: this is a short story. Don’t try to cram too much in. This is a story about one thing changing. Don’t add too many locations or characters, but do keep your characters interacting, to keep the action pulling us along.
Strategies for Drafting ABOT#1
Pull out your manuscript . You should already have written your opening and shown us what your character is dealing with and how that normally goes.
Now, go back to your ABOT#1 brainstorming notes and write the scenes that show your character dealing with their challenge (trying to realize their desire). This is probably kicked off by something they did in the first part of your story.
If, in your Part One, your character answered the front door, I’ll assume some sort of interaction happened with the person on the doorstep. In that case, today you’re going to write the consequence of that.
A fun thing to do, to keep your story interesting, is make THIS the day they decide to react in a way they don’t normally react.
If a neighbor has come by to complain about your character’s dog barking, and if she normally apologizes, perhaps today is the day she decides to tell the neighbor what she really thinks of their petty complaints.
(This example works particularly well if your character’s desire is to stand up for herself more, or to be more respected, or to not be ignored…)
Remember that you’re setting up an action that gives you somewhere to go. You can move your character closer to or further away from their desire.
In the next sequence (And Because of That #2) you’re going to be writing the consequence of this first sequence, so leave yourself some room to move. The next sequence will either take your character further on the trajectory you set today or allow them to pull back in the other direction, regarding their desire)
And Because of That #2
How can you ratchet up the tension, or move the action along, in a new direction in the next part of the story?
Remember: it’s perfectly OK if the “And Because of That #2” you had planned yesterday no longer fits. You know more now. If you need to, think of a new direction that makes more sense for the character you’ve come to know, and go for it.
Remember, you’re leaving room for the final action/decision that will resolve the story, which is today’s Task 2…
Task 2: Brainstorm The Beginning of The End
Now that you have a sense of where your character is going and how they deal with things, you’re probably starting to get a sense of how you want to end this thing.
Today I want to give you the confidence to know that you can make that turn and begin to put an ending on this story!
The story begins to end when something finally changes for your character.
Maybe it’s internal, maybe it’s forced on them by an external event, but the final action they take in the story answers the ‘will they or won’t they’ achieve their desire.
(If you’re getting fancy it can answer the question of whether or not their desire is actually the same as what they need, but that’s a more advanced task!)
Remember: we’re thinking about the events that show us how the character ultimately deals with whatever they’ve faced during this story. It will probably tell us something about how they have changed (or refused to).
Don’t worry about how you put a bow on the ending yet. We’ll talk about that soon. Just think about what might happen, or at the very least, how you want your reader to feel as they exit the story.
(This emotional part is useful to write down now, because it can get lost as you wrestle with the actual writing part. Keep it handy, as a sign post, for when you’re writing this part!)
Leave a comment telling us how today’s task went. Did you have a sense of how your character will have changed by the end? Do you know how you want your readers to feel?
Need more encouragement? Here are some more voices about what they have achieved after getting serious about their writing, finishing stories, and participating in this writing community
I wake up in the morning excited. Not only am I writing more, I am writing with mindfulness and new skills I’ve learned. Now I proudly tell people I am a WRITER.
I was stuck in the morass of guilt and self-doubt because I was not able to finish longer pieces of fiction writing. Now I finish most pieces!
Writing a story a day has been very good practice to develop a positive orientation to writing endeavors, not to mention that it has led me to meet new people, be part of a community and find my writing feet again.
I am more motivated to write and send out stories. I recently submitted a short-story collection–finally! I am also more motivated to revise novels that I have written. I also now have a website.
Anita G. Gorman
My writing life is more intentional now. I’ve begun to focus less on the faults in my writing and more on the purpose of my prose.
This has helped me jump from dreaming to writing with a plan.
Despite our fantasies of a life that allows us to write all day in a library-like spare room…most of us are writing in the margins of life. And that’s OK. But we need support if we are to pursue this writing life.
Sometimes that support comes in the form of a challenge.
This year I am doing a short short-story challenge: from September 10th to September 17th and the reason for this is: I have both feet firmly planted in the real world, and I would like you to join me here.
Whether you are looking for:
a creative kickstart after finishing a larger project
accountability so that you can live up to your own expectations
the excitement of getting back in the saddle again after a busy season of life
A structured schedule to help you get un-stuck on a particular writing technique,
The StoryADay Fun-Size challenge may be just what you need.
The Challenge runs from Sept 10-17, with daily tasks that will walk you through the process of writing a single story. There will be daily emails and some special events too…and it’s all no cost: my gift to you because the world needs more stories and your voice matters.
Sign up today and I’ll send you my Story Sparks Workbook so you can get start collecting the raw materials of your next story between now and the start of the challenge.
(May writers have told me this was the start of a habit they’ve continued for years, meaning they’re always ready with ideas when they make time to write!)
P. S. Accountability is powerful. Even after all these years, I still need stuff like this. This morning I came thisclose to signing up for a $895 writing course that would teach me nothing-I-don’t-already-know but that would have provided some structure to help me finish a project. The StoryADay Fun-Size Challenge is a much better deal 😉 Have questions? Hit ‘reply’!