Monday, August 24, 2009

The End.....?

Part of my job is to teach kids to write. (Truly, the best job in the world....the other part of the job involves dressing up as the Story Queen and telling them stories....yeah, I know I am lucky). When I work with my fifth graders, there is a project we do each year whilst studying the writing form of narrative. Naturally, they have to write one. But I got quite tired, year after year, of reading fabulous stories that ended, well, lamely.

"......and then I woke up."

I hate and-then-I-woke-up.

So, I devised a way to make ATIWU disappear from their writing! (Forbidding it did not you would know if you ever tried to forbid a fifth grader from doing anything.) I created a project in which all they had to do was to write the best FIRST chapter they could. Write a chapter that made me beg them to write more.

Genius, no?

Well, it worked. I got to read amazing, exciting chapters. The kids really let themselves go and created situations in their writing that they didn't have to worry about "getting out of." Yay kids! Yay writing teacher!

Except that I totally get it now. Totally.

You hear that, kiddos. I get it.

See, I am at the end of writing a book that I promised myself I'd finish before August 31. It's a middle grade and, well, I have had the idea for eight years. I wrote about 80 pages several years ago, only to lose them in the great computer crash of 2002. I got brave and started it again (from scratch) in April. No, it won't be polished and shiny, but a draft will be done before school starts. Which would be good and wonderful EXCEPT for the simple fact that, well...........

.....I kind of created some situations that I am not sure how to get out of........

....and I hate endings/goodbyes....that kind of thing. When I moved away from NM after living there fore thirty years, I escaped out the back door of my going away party. When I read the last chapter of the last Harry Potter, I read it sooooooo slowly. I just wasn't ready for the end.

So, um, now I have one week, that's right ONE WEEK to figure out this mess.


UNLESS....maybe, this is all a dream......and I'll wake up.......



Stephanie Faris said...

I can relate to this all too well! Heck, I'm having a hard time even ending chapters right now for some reason! Often what I do is write down everything that needs to be wrapped up in a long list, then think over the best way to tie it all together. I've even written the synopsis before. Yes, BEFORE I finished the book. I've found this kick-starts everything for me.

lisa and laura said...

Endings are so hard! We really struggled with figuring out how to end Pemberly Brown. We didn't want to have it be a "Scooby Doo" ending and yet we needed it to have a lot of twists and turns and ultimately satisfy the reader. So many books really muck up the ending.

Anyways, we think we nailed it (at least we hope we did..). Best of luck wrapping things up. Almost there...

storyqueen said...

Thanks, girls! I keep telling myself that I can always change it later if I don't like it........which is good because I'm not sure if I like it right now.


I hate endings!!!

(I know how it NEEDS to end,'s the getting there that's hard, the getting there authentically, so it doesn't seem forced that I'm struggling with.)

BJW said...

Aww, I felt similarly reading the last chapter of Harry Potter. Just wasn't ready for it to be over.

Best of luck to a proper ending. Didn't realize you lost your story in a computer crash. Yeesh. Horrible. I'm sorry that happened, but proud of you for not giving up. Now for that ending!

BJW said...

PS Can you trick yourself? write the last chapter, wrapping up all loose ends or whatever, but tell yourself you'll write one more afterwards. For you! Then when you do that, just take it out. Make yourself think it's the second-to-last chapter and there's still one more to go. But bring everything you can to a logical conclusion, tying up every loose end, but just tell yourself there's another reunion chapter coming so you get your emotions out of there.

I'm all about tricking myself.

Susan R. Mills said...

Endings are so hard, aren't they? And I'm jealous you get to read all those great fifth grad stories. I love it at the end of the school year when my kids bring home their writing notebooks, and I get to read all the stuff they wrote. Some of it is quite good, actually!

storyqueen said...

BJW- Yes, I am into tricking myself, too! (Just finished three more pages---telling myself it should take only about ten more.....I have no idea, really, but this makes me stop dragging my feet and get on with it. I can always fix it later, right? I mean, what fun would revision be if I wrote too well in the first draft? And I'm all about fun.....)

Lazy-Yes, I love reading the 5th grade chapters! (Even when I have to go through about a hundred of them!)

Clementine said...

Oh Shelley, I relate to this! When I finished my MG last December, I cried like a baby. I abhor goodbyes. I've found that when I finish the ending, if I re-read chapter one, it makes me feel better.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

you can do it!

Weronika Janczuk said...

I hate goodbyes, the kinds in novels and in real life. I dread having to tie up a book and sometime wish it would be realistic to make works-in-progress end with cliff hangers. Might be just the way out for you. ;)

storyqueen said...

Amy-Yup....the tears are coming. I can feel them. It may be a couple of days....but I am anticipating them. sigh.

Shelli-Thanks for stopping by, and for the encouragement!

Weronika-I kind of like that idea....maybe writing a couple of alternate, cliff-hangers.....seriously.....I cranked out another page (heaven help me) but I can only hope I am going the right direction.

You know, today above any other day, I have really needed encouragement....and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart:)!!!

One more page before the day is over.......

Tyler said...

All that means is that you've really worked yourself up a good plot here! If it's too easy to get out of, it's too easy for the reader to put down.

You'll work it out!

PS, I know exactly how you feel.

And my word confirmation: "mulmends": you will mul it over and then make 'mends with the story's ending.

Carrie Harris said...

I am allergic to ATIWU. I need some ATIWU repellant.

Having said that, I'm in very much the same situtation with my WIP, and I'm debating using ATIWABL (and then I was abducted by aliens).

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha! The great crash of 02! You are hilarious. Love all your posts, but this was is especially good. Endings are TOUGH! That's one reason why I like to work with a partner. Brainstorming with another person really helps. Is there anyone you can discuss it with? Critique partner? Spouse? Might help if you could toss ideas back and forth.

storyqueen said...

Tyler- I am going to cut and paste your post somewhere that I won't lose it. It was so sweet, and made me feel so much better about the messy situation I have created for myself...and my MC. Thank you!

Carrie-Dude, you WERE abducted by aliens......That's why you always have the best ideas now!

Corey-I plan on taking the issue to my group...but only if I am truly stuck. I kind of think the answers are there, somewhere in the stuff I have already created, or in the back of my mind, and I just have to walk the road....lonely as it may be.

Kelly H-Y said...

Oh, do I ever understand! The endings are my least favorite part to figure out!!!

Wendabubble said...

All brill comments lol and of course and excellent post !!

Isn't it funny how our imaginations run riot with all the parts that create the intrigue in a book but then we struggle to end it all!

Where you trying to say Shelley that this can deter your 5th graders from getting started in the first place? Is that what you get?

I was always taught to know the ending before I start. To plot the book first, to work out the hooks and the suspense bits and guide them all towards the great ending that is already in my head. Of course the planning becomes a very important part of the book. Slinging the words together has never been a problem though. All I need now is an idea and an ending and I can write a book!

storyqueen said...

Well, Wend, I suppose that might work for me.....except that I am totally NOT a plotter. Sometimes, when I start a book, I have very little idea where it's going at first. This makes it terribly exciting to write, fascinating to see what unfolds....and excruciating when trying to tie it all up at the end!!

Stephanie Perkins said...

". . . and then I woke up."

ARRGGHHH! I know! The other terrible ending is where the house burns down. I ran across that one a lot in college writing workshops.

I LOVE your idea of only having them write one chapter. Brilliant!

I hope you're rocking your own ending. (And, um, how amazing are you to start again FROM SCRATCH? Brave is right!)