Delia Sherman joined us aboard the Independence of the Seas for our question-and-answer installment on endings. The questions came from the attendees at the Writing Excuses Workshop, which was, lest anyone forget, on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The questions:
- Why do more short stories than novels end on tragic notes?
- How do you keep an ending from being predictable or boring?
- How do you write a stand-alone ending with sequel potential?
- What are the best ways to avoid infodump endings?
- Are there differences between writing the first novel in a series and other novels in the series?
- How do you know which questions to leave unanswered?
- What sort of attention do you give to your last lines?
This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered in a soundproofed bullet-train by Alex Jackson.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 22:38 — 15.6MB)
You finished your book? TAKE A BREAK! This week’s homework is for you to relax a bit, and do whatever it is you do with a spot of time off. Revision begins soon, and you may need a palate-cleanser.
Nalo Hopkinson joins us again, at sea, for our second Master Class installment on endings. We cover some of the reasons why an ending might not be working, and then talk about the sorts of diagnoses that will help you solve the problem. You’ll likely need to dig deep in your toolbox. Our episodes covering the MICE quotient, promises made to the readers, and the Hollywood formula may be worth reviewing in this process.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 21:54 — 15.1MB)
Consider the last paragraph of your work in progress. Compare it to your first paragraph. Identify possible resonances that you can mirror between the two.
Brad Beaulieu and Jaym Gates join us from the GenCon Indy Writing Symposium to talk about good versus evil, and how your character might swing between the two. And it’s all about that swing. Moral grey areas are more interesting if we move through them. We talk about how we swing the pendulum, what difficulties we encounter, and what sorts of things we want to have happen to our reader when it moves.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 16:16 — 11.2MB)
Try it at home! Gradually move the moral pendulum for one of your “goodest” characters, and do so without knowing where that will lead. Discovery-write your way down the slippery slope…
Nalo Hopkinson joins us for this episode, which we recorded before a live audience of Out Of Excuses Workshop & Retreat attendees. October’s master class episodes focus on endings, and in this first installment we talk about what an ending really is. It’s obviously the last part of the book, but the gestalt of “ending” is so much more than just “The End,” and it’s important that we understand all that before committing ourselves to being done writing it.
(Note: You can start writing your ending any time you want. Stopping writing your ending, and being done with it? There’s the rub.)
This episode was engineered aboard The Independence of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered ashore in a secret laboratory by Alex Jackson.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 18:38 — 12.8MB)
Take an ending you’ve written (the ending of your Master Class story would be a fine choice for this) and trim it, pushing it earlier in the story. See how early it can appear, and how this changes things.
Sister Mine, by Nalo Hopkinson, narrated by Robin Miles