In which Kris ends things

Kris here,

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately practicing writing short ideas in a concise format. See, I’ve got about a billion ideas in my head just like everybody else, and I can start them off pretty dang well. We’re talking ideas for days here. But I’ve been tripping up around the 50-60% mark on the whole actually having a plot thing. I’m like oh man this is fantastic my main character is A BOSS! And Tina’s like “but Kris what’s he bossly doing” and I’m like “well look he just set a landslide on fire and threw it at an army” and she’s like “oh yeah. Okay but why did he do that?” So of course because it’s an ARMY hello!? But what’s it doing, why’s my guy caught up in it? PSH! Who cares we need more fire in here! “How does it end?” Uhh well I suppose he just, I don’t know he wins a medal and lives in a castle.

Okay that’s not a real life example but I feel it’s exaggeratory enough to get the point across. I have to combat my lack of forward progress or my actual weak point in writing: Ending. The. Story. These things ramble on forever, like holy cow man put a lid on it already! I get exhausted reading through my own notes a week later. This is a problem of course – if you can’t read your own work, who else is going to put out the effort? So I did what any rational adult in my place would do and I just Googled around for like an hour looking for an easy way out.

Ugh, turns out there’s no easy way out. Well there might be, but the people with those secrets are greedy. All the advice I found regarding “How to end my goddang story” revolved around things like “5 ways to end your story. Number 7 will wig you out!” There’s probably a lot of good info out there, but my attention span is basically a knock knock joke and sometimes it’s easier done than said.

I ended up devising a cool practice to help me out. Yeah you guessed it – I just wrote a bunch of endings. I got a (basically) brand new notebook and a pen, and I wrote a brief concept and wrote a plot and ending immediately. Okay, the first try was ten pages long. That’s why it’s practice! I’ve got another few 8-10 page ideas thrown around in various places – I haven’t actually kept them together, that would be silly. The last few days I’ve actually managed to piece together a few one or two page ideas in an outline-able format. This might seem like a trivial issue to both accomplished- and non-writers, but remember: nobody reads stories for the beginning. I’ve never chatted up a fellow reader like “boy this book sure started out amazing. I’m going to spread the word, but just about the first 50 pages!” No way- they’re doing this for that sweet endorphine rush at the end. You gotta nail that bit.

There are probably quite a few authors and writers hanging out here thinking to themselves “Wow this guy is really dumb. I write 100 pages a day, it’s pretty easy.” I totally agree, kudos to your monstrous efforts on the 100 page thing, that’s really good. Lots of people I talk to personally or threads I read through on writing forums are all about how to move a story forward, or I wrote my character into a corner – how do I get out of this?

Try it out sometime – spitting out 300 pages of book into 5 pages is fast, you can write and re-write 20 times with various changes or whatever you want in any writing style that fits your theme. Mine usually don’t include names – the last one I wrote had a main character named “Kid,” supported by two characters named “bro” and “ninja” and the antagonists were “bastardlord” and “gloriousleader.” Of course they were fleeing from the country of THIS to the country of THAT. The important thing isn’t the details of these (hopefully throwaway) stories, it’s the practice you get in resolving those fine details.

Remember, names aren’t important, backstories giving your protagonist reasons to throw flaming landslides at people are important.

In which Kris supports supporting characters

 

Kris here,

Tina’s been pressuring me to write some stuff recently because she thinks I’m “lazy” even though playing Minecraft is technically writing I’m just saying. We’ve also had Zack down for a few weeks to visit, and between hanging out with the kids, working and keeping the house tidy, I’ve done basically zero writing in the last six weeks. So she’s probably right. Tina also recently said “hey Kris there’s this thing where a bunch of people want to write 52 short stories in 52 weeks let’s go!” and I spit my coffee all over myself. A short story a week?!

So I’ve been setting the backbones for a bunch of short stories recently and in doing so, I notice my protagonists generally seem to be non-heroic or not the main character if you will. It’s a bit interesting so I actually got sidetracked for a while just looking at other stories to see if it’s just because that’s what I’ve read or if I’m subconsciously modeling my writing after someone, but I don’t think so. I’ve got the world I started out of boredom about a year ago that’s stuck with me because I love it (and my wife wrote a 60,000 word novel in it that she almost finished because she doesn’t care about my mental well-being) so naturally my stories are based there – but even when I’m thinking of other ideas, the only type of story that I write the main character as the important person is in horror stories. Nobody is going to be scared if you write:

“and then she received a phone call. It was the police! They said her *related person* was in a car accident and there were ghostly scrapes on the car door!”

That’s..not spooky.

Well maybe those types of stories aren’t interesting and that’s why nobody writes them, but I know I can’t be the only one! I’m thinking of famous big sellers like The Hunger Games (face of a revolution) or Harry Potter (he killed the bad guy as a baby AND an adult); but also the lesser known books too, like one I’ve mentioned previously the Enchanted Forest series (smart princess who’s amazing.) I know a lot of protagonists start as the underdog and then are the hero by the end, but that counts too. I added a story a month or two ago about an innkeeper who was assailed by a bad wizard dude – he’s just a dude trying to get by, then the two magic dudes come fight it out in his inn and burn it to the ground. By the end of the story, he’s still just an innkeeper.

I probably won’t ever make a full-length project out of a supporting character – it would be incredibly frustrating. Even in the story I just mentioned, I was thinking “maybe I should write about this wizard he seems awesome” – I think this sort of thing would be good only as supporting stories or something to tease an audience about how super great the main character for your actual novel is going to be. Each time I set up a short story, it’s a side-person: a kid who needs help with a curse seeking out a witch doctor, an innkeeper getting dragged into an evil wizard plot. This probably stems from the fact that writers are usually notorious for only worldbuilding as much as they actually have to, so I’m always finishing up books like “No! Go back to the swamp why were the snakes on fire! Teell meee!” I’m pretty drawn into side details and background information and I think side-characters are a good way to explore these without detracting from some grand quest to save the world.

Oh man, I got distracted again, there’s no way I’m going to be able to fit 52 short stories in 52 weeks DO THESE PEOPLE NOT HAVE CHILDREN!