When a new idea for a book grabs me, I dwell on it for a few days, or maybe a week or two in my spare time as work on the kind of writing that makes money (technical training). However, soon I realize I will forget the scenes that I have dreamed up if I don’t start writing them down. When I start writing a novel I know how the characters are going to change by the end. But, I don’t know the manner in which this will occur. So, I usually do not know the ending.
Each author has their idea of how to create a fictional character, story, setting, and so on. I do not want to duplicate what has already done, so I don’t read other fiction during this time. My process is to come up with a general outline, and yet remaining flexible. I dwell on my ideas for a few days, or weeks, until the first part of the book coalesces in my mind. Then, I start creating a list of scenes. Then comes the task of creating very short synopsis of each one. However, I often get ahead of myself and write them out completely only to realize they have to be changed because the events in them are out of order.
Writing character driven novels means the plot requires adjustments as I create the story. As I continue to think of how the story should unfold I go back and edit earlier scenes to fit with later events. Inevitably, I start moving scenes around, even if they don’t need to be. That is when I start creating a calendar with important dates. When I have enough for about thirty to fifty percent of a book, I start trying to pin down the ending, because if I don’t, the plot seems to go on infinitely.
I don’t finish stories with everything settled and calm. Nothing seems to be dramatic enough to call it quits. The big event that wraps up the story often changes the world for the main character. They are heading off to college or off to a new country. Only occasionally do they return back to the place they came from to receive praise from people who ignored them in the past. It seems enticing to take my character further into this new world, but I must resist the temptation to do so.
Ending the never-ending story is a challenge that I’ve face with most of my works that are more than short stories. There is always one loose end to tie up before the last word. I’ve learned to identify my major conflict and make sure it is resolved. I’ve learned that all loose do not need to be explained. I can even acknowledge that the main character will never know the answer to certain questions. Leaving parts unknown does not stop the end of a story.