Pushing Through to “The End”

I know a lot of writers, myself included, who have a hard time finishing stories (are you nodding as you read this?).  I don’t think this an unusual problem.

Writing stories is a lot like running a race.  At the beginning, I’m fresh and eager to start something new and interesting.  The words come with relative ease as new, exciting situations roll from my fingers.  That initial burst of creative energy generally carries me through the first half of a story.  I can also usually write the ending with ease (assuming I know the ending, but that’s a topic for another time) because once the “finish line” is in sight, I get a jolt of new energy, and I can plow through to “The End.”

It’s that third quarter that I find the hardest.  The excitement of the fresh idea has faded.  “The End” isn’t in sight yet, just a seemingly endless, rocky path that saps the strength.  It’s this rough third that I find I need to push through.  Generally I tell myself to stick to it…to keep putting words on the paper and slowly, gradually knock of the scenes until I see the ending creeping over the distant horizon.  (It helps that I use an outline, crude as it may be, to map my progress.)  At this stage of the story writing, I don’t worry about the quality of the words—the craft, so to speak.  Instead I focus on simply telling the minimum.  After I’ve finished the story, I go back and edit it, with that third quarter getting a disproportionate amount of my attention to bring it into shape.

While I’ve gotten better with that third quarter over the course of my writing career, I still wish I had the secret to make it easy writing.  (I don’t think there is a secret, but if you know it, will you share it?)  That third quarter is nose-to-the-grindstone time, when writers earn their pay.  So until I locate the elusive grail (if it exists), I guess I’ll have to keep pushing though to “The End” with sweat and determination.

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About D. Thomas Minton

Writer of speculative fiction
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4 Responses to Pushing Through to “The End”

  1. ericjbaker says:

    Ugh. I’ve been trying to finish a rewrite for weeks. I was advised some time ago by a trusted beta reader to dramatically alter a story that didn’t have much payoff. So I rewrote the whole thing from the beginning, only keeping about 30% of what i had (of a 45-page story)… but the last 5 or so pages have been torture. I’m sitting there, as I type, wondering what the heck I’m doing. It feels like one random sequence of events, not a story. I know it is not that at all, and that it will be fine after a few more drafts… I still have to crawl across that finish line, though.

    • I can relate to that. I have several stories sitting as completed first drafts that I’m not ready to look at again for the same reason. Have you tried setting it aside and working on something else for while. The time away might give you the recharge you need to tackle it once and for all.

      • ericjbaker says:

        I already let about 3 weeks go by without touching it. I managed to pick it up get about 2 pages from the end, give or take., a few days ago. Just need that last little push.

      • Sounds like progress is being made in small steps. Who said writing was easy? 🙂

        Good luck. I’m sure you’ll push through and produce a better story for the effort.

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