Monday, April 11, 2011

Three steps to finding alternate endings that work

Many of our posts here relate best to novels and novel writing. This post is for our friends who write short fiction.

Science Fiction author Nancy Kress shared an interesting sequence of blog posts earlier this year revealing the fascinating process a short story can take from the inception of the original idea through to final publication. A seat-of-the-pants author, Nancy started with a dry spell, forged through with passion, but found herself 2/3s of the way through the story and in need of an alternate ending. These are three steps she used to work around a wall in her writing to successfully complete and sell the story.

1) Go back to the last place you're excited about the story (in this case, 2/3 of the way through) and toss out everything after that.


2) Think of a different, but still logical, way for a secondary character to act. Secondary characters are, by definition, not as completely delineated as the point-of-view character and so the author has some wiggle room as to how they might behave. Change something major here.

3) Return to your protagonist -- how does he react to this change of behavior in someone important to him? If nothing sparks for you, try different behavior from the secondary character, or perhaps a different character.


How have you pushed through and finished a story that was giving you fits?
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