Saturday, January 19, 2013

The End

A story has to have a beginning, middle, and end. It needs to go from Point A to Point B in a believable way with entertaining characters.

The beginning is the introduction of the main character, the protagonist, a few friends, and the antagonist along with the setting (time and place). It needs to hook the reader with the first line and hold them long enough for the reader to care what happens to the protagonist so they will read to the end.

The beginning can be a slow start (boring) with lots of explaining (telling) which is the mark of an amateur. Personally, I don’t like prologs. My thoughts on prologs are simple: If the information is essential put it in the story.

Of course, something does happen to the protagonist and the bulk of the story is spent resolving the conflict. In life we spend a great deal of effort to return things to the way they were when we were comfortable, happy, and safe – or to improve our situation to be comfortable, happy, and safe. Sometimes our hero sets out to improve someone else’s situation, or even the state of a group of people.

On this journey, real or figurative, there are setbacks, failures, obstacles, and the occasional gain. There are also those who help and those who don’t. The protagonist is pursued by a person or situation (maybe a natural disaster or a pending manmade disaster) or they are running to something (maybe a race against time, which can be a fixed, unyielding foe).

To be interesting, the middle doesn’t go in a straight simple line. An experienced writer uses literary devices to move the story forward, and the middle is where this is most evident. Most people do fairly well with the middle. They get on a roll and the story "nearly writes itself" as they type.

The end seems to be the difficult piece for people to write. Once the writer figures out the ending, they rush to it and through it.

Most of the minor conflicts are resolved during the middle. The end is the final resolution of the primary conflict. However, it is not the place to add new characters or new information. Think of Apollo 13, the conflict can only be solved with the materials already onboard.

Keep the reader in mind while writing. Think about what will be a satisfying ending to a stranger who has spent time reading to the endpoint. It cannot disappoint in the end.

To learn more about literary devices, check this site: