Day 4 – Write “Something Changes

Today we resolve things and plan how we will tie them up (not necessarily with a bow)

Today is your day to wrap up the main action of your story and plan how you will end it..

The Climax & Resolution

Yesterday you should have planned out this section, which I called ‘until something changes’.

In the previous parts of the story, your character was taking actions based on what they already knew and who they already were. The first one probably didn’t go so well and the second one was something of a reaction to that.

By this point, your character has realized something has to change.

In this section you get to choose whether you are allowing them to make the smart choice (changing for the better) or the stupid one (rejecting everything they’ve learned and staying stubbornly the same),

Today is the day to write the final action they take that resolves the story, answers the ‘will they or won’t they succeed’ that you have planted in the reader’s mind, and sets the stage for tomorrow’s emotional reaction (i.e. the ending).

The resolution of your story is where they take (or suffer the consequences of) the actions that brought them to this point

  • If you want a happy ending, then the character gets what they want or need.
  • If you want a bittersweet ending, they get one but not the other.
  • If you want a sad ending, they don’t get either
  • Saddest of all, they CHOSE not to change in the way that is necessary for them to get what they want (sob!)

Remember that the plot is the actions your character have been taking, that keep things moving along.

There’s an argument to be made that the real story is the inner journey of the character.

Don’t forget to resolve both.

Brainstorm The Ending

(If the perfect ending comes to you today, by all means, write it down! But don’t feel you have to force it.)

The ending is different from the resolution, in that the closing lines are less about the character and more about the relationship between you and the reader.

When you tie up the action and the inner story of the character, the reader trusts that you’re a good storyteller.

When you take time to craft a really great closing, it’s as if you’re turning to the reader and saying, “Hey, do you see? Did you feel that? What are you going to do with what you just experienced, out there in your own life?”

It shouldn’t (in my not-so-humble opinion) often be as obvious as that. We’re not Aesop, telling fables. But we should pay attention to how we want the reader to feel on the way out of the door (of our story).

Here are some of my favorite ways to give a story an emotional closing:

Leave a comment letting us know what kind of ending you think you will write, and if you feel you have in place, all the parts a story needs.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to write that ending and check out the bonus section on making your opening better, now that you have your story drafted.

Bonus Pep Talk

I wanted to acknowledge something: by this point in the challenge you might be feeling some emotions.

  • The happy buzz of having a sense of how this story wants to end
  • A feeling of disappointment that it hasn’t been as easy as you hoped
  • Gnawing doubt about your abilities as a writer
  • Pride that you’ve stuck with it this long.

(Being creative is hard work. And confusing!)

The best advice I’ve ever heard for dealing with this mix of emotions is to simply commit to doing the next step. 

  • If the story isn’t finished? Finish it.
  • If the story isn’t ready for its public? Keep revising.
  • If you’ve sent it out and are waiting for a reaction from readers? Write the next thing.

Tomorrow we’ll wrap up the writing on this story. What tiny task will you commit to doing, next?

Hint: I’m going to suggest that you keep some time open to read over your story because I have a special bonus for those of you taking part: a chance to get my eyes (and perhaps those of a few of my trusted friends) on your story. 

Carve out some time to join me live, this Saturday, Sept 17,  10 AM (Eastern US) for a special event!

Keep writing,

Julie

Target Practice

How can you know you’re successful, if you haven’t defined ‘success’?

Stephen King didn’t become “Stephen King” overnight. He did it step by step, and at each step he refused to quit, for some reason.

Often we are tempted to quit because we aren’t seeing the results we thought we would, fast enough (“I thought I’d have an agent by now”, “I thought I’d be published by now”, “I thought I’d be able to leave my day-job, by now.”)

Some of the end goals you have for your writing, today, might be true and reasonable and motivating for you.

But consider that some of them are rooted in other people’s expectations. And usually in the expectations of people who are not writers and have a very sketchy picture of how the words ‘writer’ and ‘success’ can fit together.

There are so many different ways to ‘be a writer’ – and to be successful as a writer – that it’s vital for each of us to define what ‘being a writer’ looks like for us, for now, and to be willing to revise that at each stage.

Before you can build a writing practice, or even successfully write a story, it’s helpful to figure out what ‘success’ looks like for you, for now….so that you know if you’re hitting the target.

Today’s task is to define success for yourself.

Grab your notebook and let’s go through this exercise together.

Set a timer for 3 minutes and move to the next question after each. Keep going even when you think you can’t answer the next question.

Write down your current biggest, most outlandish wish for your writing life and what does your life look like when you achieve it?

(feel free to think about money, fame, impact on others, and what your daily life would look like in that Best of All Possible Worlds). Go nuts with this.

E.g. create a fictional world that has a series of best-selling novels, a movie franchise and a line of tie-in action figures. I go to movie premieres in borrowed diamonds. My family compound is nestled by the woods at the bottom of a mountain, on a river that leads to the sea, but is also conveniently located for big city cultural events. I write in the mornings and spend afternoons walking the hills with my favorite humans, then do some more writing in the evenings before sleeping soundly and breakfasting on eggs from my free-range chickens (that someone else looks after). Fans write to me and tell me I changed their lives for the better.

What is a smaller success than this, that might lead to your Best of All possible Worlds goal? And what does your life look like?

e.g. Write the first book in my story world, putting all my current craft skills into play, and learning a few more along the way. Have trusted first-readers who give me excellent feedback, and are clamoring to be on my ‘street team’ and help promote it when the book comes out.  My life is pretty hectic, doing everything I had to do before, and deal with publishing and promoting a book, but I’m learning a ton and I have a team of great people around me. It’s exhilarating, and a little exhausting.

What is a smaller success than this? And what does your life look like?

E.g. write some and complete some short stories set in my fictional world, to help me build the craft skills I need to build compelling characters and hold the reader enthralled all the way through. I’m spending a significant amount of my free time on my writing, mostly writing, but also taking classes from writers/teachers I admire and leveling up my skills. I don’t spend as much time on Twitter, doomscrolling or watching dumb TV anymore. My other creative hobbies are being neglected, but I had to pick a lane. I chose writing and I can feel myself making progress. It’s quietly satisfying.

What is a smaller goal than that? And what does your life look like?

E.g. write a single story and complete it. It is hard for me to give myself permission to take time for myself, consistently, but I’ve noticed that when I stopped asking for permission and simply gave it to myself, it wasn’t that big a deal to anyone else. When I have done my writing, I am tired but  somehow refreshed and relaxed. I am definitely more fun to be with after I’ve played with my imaginary friends. The people I live with are starting to notice, and even occasionally say,  ‘do you want some writing time?’ I have decided not to be insulted by that!

What does a smaller success than that look like? And how is your day?

E.g. I brainstormed an idea for at least part of a new story, and I put it somewhere I will be sure to find it again. It’s a step in the right direction and something I can work on tomorrow, or next time I need a story idea. I didn’t write 2000 words of deathless prose, but I showed up for my writing and played in a serious way. The rest of my day goes great. Somehow decisions seem easier, my day job is less annoying, and I’m able to give some energy to other people when they need me…without resenting it!

What does a smaller success than that look like? And how is your day?

E.g. I captured three story sparks. It didn’t seem like ‘writing’, but it unleashed my creativity and made the mundane stuff I had to do today a little more fun. Running errands and folding laundry is a lot more fun when I keep imagining backstories for everything from the supermarket cashier to the towels! Someone told me I made them smile because I looked like I was having a good day. 

Phew!

(You can stop your timer now!)

My final question

Do you need to reach that Best of All Possible World goals before you can feel successful? Can you build a writing practice that improves your life and the lives of people around you, with a few tiny, starter goals?

Tomorrow I’m going to give you one more, really fun exercise to do, to get you jazzed for writing, before we start work on the One Story you’re going to write this month, .

Leave a comment: what was the tiniest step you came up with? How would it feel if you could have a little of the feeling that evoked, every day? Would it lead to bigger and better things?

Announcing the StoryADay Fun-Size Challenge


Whether you’re easing back into a writing routine, need a break from your magnum opus, or just want to inject a little fun into your day…

YOU ARE INVITED TO SIGN UP FOR THE STORYADAY MAY CHALLENGE

New For 2022: 2 Ways To Play

This year, for the first time, I’ve created a Fun-Size StoryADay challenge—one month, one story—to ease you (back) into a daily writing practice that fits your life.

Your Perfect Writing Day

Imagine opening your email each morning of May and finding an encouraging note, writing prompt or tiny task that will start you off on the right writing foot.

No guilt, just an invitation to let your inner writer come out and play.

What’s In the Fun-Size Challenge?

Each day you’ll receive a tiny task to lead you through the process of writing one story during the month

  • Week 1 – Ideas and preparation
  • Week 2 – Developing your ideas and beginning to write
  • Week 3 – Working through the middle and ending the story well
  • Week 4 – Tidying up and planning ahead

PLUS anyone who signs up will have the option to enter the ‘review lottery’ and may get feedback on their writing, live on a group call.

By the end of the month you will have a draft of a story that didn’t exist 31 days before.

Perhaps you, like StoryADay writers Gabrielle, Marta, Kim, and Lex, will have created the draft that gets you your first, second or fiftieth fiction publication.

Or maybe, like Laura, or E. Rankin, you’ll make your first paid sale.

And how great would it be if, at the end of May, you are like StoryADay writer Michele who finally created “that daily writing habit”, or Robin who says “I have become a real writer”? Or Jeff, who says “every day, I have that desire to put in a little time with my writing and I’m confident that will always be there for me, now.”

Even if you need to take a day or two off, the tasks are manageable enough that you’ll easily be able to keep up. Importantly, you’ll keep making progress towards your goals, throughout the month.

(And don’t worry, for all you hard-core challenge fans, the classic 31 days, 31 prompts, start-and-finish-a-story-every-day version is still an option, with new writing prompts every day, and a lively community to keep you going!)

If you’ve been looking for a way to break through your blocks, fight the fear that comes with perfectionism and high expectations, and simply have some fun with your writing again, join us this May for the free StoryADay May challenge.

New! StoryADay ‘Fun-Size’ Challenge Debuts this May 

Introducing a kinder, gentler challenge for busy writers

Every May writers challenge themselves to write a story a day, to stimulate their creativity and create lots of new drafts. This year for the first time, the founder of the StoryADay May Challenge, Julie Duffy, is issuing a new ‘fun-size’ challenge for people who would like to write, but find the idea of writing 31 stories in a month intimidating.

Continue reading “New! StoryADay ‘Fun-Size’ Challenge Debuts this May “