In part 1 here, I wrote about how to find the way into a story. You’ve had an idea; you’ve found a character and you have them in a situation where you want to find out what happens next. You have written them into a pickle, put them in jeopardy perhaps or created a dilemma for them.
Then what? Where do you go and how do you draw the story to a close.
Sometimes you know before you start how it will end; all you have to do is write the journey. In the example I gave I had Mrs Pickwick coming across her dead son’s old bike while walking her dog. She finds the new owner – a boy of her son’s age who is playing football. She follows him and befriends him. He turns out to be like her son.
I didn’t have a clue about the ending when I started. In fact I hadn’t thought about who the knew owner might be. You see the story soon became one about Mrs Pickwick and her coping with her grief, how her fractured life might be restored, just a little, by the discovery of the bike and its owner.
Personally I think we agonise about the ending. Most stories are about the characters journeys and mostly those journeys, those lives will continue so what we are after is the rounding out of the story, not some full stop. Both in life and in literature the best stories aren’t neatly tied up; you might resolve a problem but you don’t have to resolve them all. In Mrs Pickwick takes a chance all you have at the end if hope. Two characters who may form a bond; there’s a possibility. It’s not said – it’s up to the reader to decide on the actual outcome. And that’s fine.
The point I’d love everyone who is considering writing, or has started and not finished is don’t worry about where you’ll end up. Just go. After all, as Robert Louis Stevenson said, ‘It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive’.