Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The End is Near . . . or is it?
The majority of the stories and novels I write start with an image. Occasionally, I hear a few lines of description, narrative or dialogue, but it's usually visual, my own silent movie scene. This moment, while often the impetus for the work, is not always the opening scene. Sometimes it falls in the middle or even at the very end. It can change slightly but it rarely disappears. It's sort of like a hidden mental hook I hang the whole story or novel on.
The Camp NaNo novel I'm continuing to work on has that. It's got lots of characters, too many plot threads to count, and some scary (I hope!) blood-and-guts-but-not-too-gory scenes. What it doesn't have? An ending.
I pretty much always have some idea of how the work is going to end. It might be vague, but it's there. Not this time. I've got loose and frayed plot lines that need to be knotted up. I've got characters moving toward an end point . . . but none of us know what that end point is or what will actually happen when we get there. And I don't like it. I like to know where I'm going, how long it will take to get there, what happens once I do. (Why, then, am I a writer, with all its unpredictability and uncertainty? Probably a post for another day.)
So, as my characters and I move toward the cliff's edge with no rope bridge in sight, I ask what you all do with your stories and novels. How do you start? Does a character speak to you or does the plot present itself first? Do you know the ending ahead of time? Or is it always a surprise to you?