I just finished Orson Scott Card’s “How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy“, and learned a lot.
One of the most helpful bits of advice was “Make sure you end the story that you begin”. Before I can explain this, you have to understand the four different types of stories:
Milieu – The story is the world, and it begins with someone entering the world, and ends when they leave it.
Idea – The story begins with a question and ends when the question is answered.
Character – The story is about the transformation of a character. Begins with their inner issues, and ends with them resolved in some way.
Event – Some event happens at the beginning that throws everything off, and the story ends when “normalcy” is restored.
So, if you begin a “character based story”, then don’t end the novel when an “event” is finished … you need to finish that emotional arc until the character based story will satisfy the reader.
For my own novel, Merlin’s Blade, I realized that I have mixed a character story with an event story. So did I end at the right place? In analyzing it, I have concluded that yes, I did. Since I begin with both stories, the ending must satisfy both, and it does.
Whew! I don’t have to rewrite!
So with the first novel in safe territory, what about my second novel (which I have written two scenes for)?
Orson’s writing advice really helped me here because I realized that even though I know a LOT about this story’s plot, I didn’t have a clue what kind of story it was. But now I do … it will be an intertwined character story: Merlin’s and Morgana’s, and how each must face themselves and come to a decision by the end of the book.
This is not to say that this will be some literary-self-angst-nothing-going-on book. It will have LOTS of action, suspense, and tension. Oh, and did I say ACTION?
But now I know the key that will signal the end of the book, the transformation that must take place to satisfy the reader and set up the next four books in the series.
I had recently decided to call this book “Merlin The Fool”, but with my new understanding of the journey that Merlin and Morgana must each take, I will call it “Merlin’s Shadow“.
Make sure to add Orson Scott Card’s “How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” to your reading list!