When I started writing my first lot of stories, I was clueless about their endings. All I knew was how the story started. After writing nearly three fourths of my first book, I floundered in mid sea, with no idea how to end it. Several days later, my muse dropped in with an ending I considered brilliant; my editor dismissed it as “the resolution is too common.”
The book lost out not just because of the way I had ended it, but also the way I had treated it. I was clueless right from the beginning about major chunks of the story. Neither the conflict, nor the main character’s goals were well defined. And the character himself was a watery version of the one I had in mind.
That incident taught me the value of writing out a book or a story in an outline form, before I actually started working on it. Even for the short stories (800 to 1000 words) that I write for the newspapers, I have a one- line outline in mind: who is the protagonist, what is their conflict and how it’s resolved. This helps me get a feel of the entire story before I tackle it.
For the longer stories (2500 to 4500 words) that are used in anthologies, I do a one paragraph outline before I sit down to write the story. This one paragraph outline tackles the protagonist, his/her or conflict or goal and the antagonist or forces against them.
For the books my initial outline is pretty detailed. I try to get the basic plot points or turning points, especially the ending down before I start writing the story. As this particular outline is just for my benefit, I even add a little about the other characters who assist or provide stumbling blocks to the main character. Several twists and turns the plot takes too are thrown into it. Getting the basic plot points down is crucial.
After the initial hiccup I have decided never to write a story/book until I have an ending in mind. Once the ending is clear in our mind, we can start building towards it, by adding the twists and turns that lead to it.
Do you all write with an ending in mind? Do you all follow the policy of writing a book/story in an outline form? Or do you all just go along and see where the story and characters lead you?
Update on Grammarly. I have used it a few times. It’s good, but can scare you with a tendency to find too many errors. As creative writers, we do take liberties with certain words and sentences, so these errors are perfectly allowed to creep into our writing. We should just pay attention to the grammatical errors and maybe the use of passive voice.