Fill the Oceans Without the Salt? On Writing Endings

Happy or Angry or Sad Faces

As of today, I’m finally reaching the end chapters of the book I’m writing– ahem, attempting to write– and everything seems to be wrapping up pretty nicely. Only… now I have a difficult decision to make, one I think a lot of writers must struggle with as they approach their ends.

Should I write a happy ending? Or not?

I borrowed a line from the song World by Five for Fighting for the title, because it describes me and my writing pretty well right now (good song, check it out, I highly recommend). I and my characters are at a crossroads right now. I could give my characters the gift of a happy ending after all the hell I’ve put them through. I could. Or I could give them a nice, tragic ending. I’m a sucker for a good tragedy. I mean, as a writer, I can decide my characters’ fates (up to a certain degree, of course). So what do I do with all this power? Do I let them heal? Or make them suffer a little more?

Oh, the possibilities seem endless.

I’m trying to decide at this very moment. Endings leave a great impact on the mind. Whatever emotion I plant here will color a person’s (and my own) perception of my work permanently. It’ll disperse like ink in water, tinging the whole bowl a certain color. But what color? I’m not so sure. Right now I’m trying to go back and look through my work for clues, to see if the story leans more towards one ending or the other. I’m also thinking that maybe I should just write out all my alternate endings, then pick one. Who knows, I may discover that I like one the best.

Well, when you write up a world, I guess you become responsible for this kind of stuff. Kill or keep your characters, poke or push them forward. What I’m going to do now? Still not sure…


On Timely Writing and Random Resources

A drawing of a girl daydreamingIn writing, I’ve heard all kinds of things about trying to write as much as possible and trying not to remain stuck in one place for too long– and I agree with these. They’ve helped me improve a lot.

But I think that, while I should try not to let myself become stuck in a muddy rut of writer’s doubt, I’ve also learned something else: that sometimes, it takes as long as it takes.

And let’s just say, it’s taking me a long time.

But who knows how long it really takes to write something you can be proud of? A month? A few weeks? A few years? I don’t think anyone really has some perfect number-formula that takes in a certain number of days and spits out a novel.

So for now I’m taking my time. I’ve set a new deadline for myself at the end of July, and here’s hoping all goes well with that.

Anyway, since I haven’t blogged in a while, I’ve decided to jot down a few resources I’ve been using, for further use by me or anyone who might need this stuff.

What Should I Read Next? is a website that suggests books based on books that you’ve read before– just pop in a title and it gives you a list of other books you might like. Nice.

Wordcount tracks how often words are used. Currently the most commonly used word is “the” (no surprise there), and the least commonly used word in their collection is “conquistador.” Kind of useful if you’re making up names based on already existing words.

The library is an awesome resource, and not only for the books. Many libraries have free encyclopedias and databases that you can access with your library card. For example, there is an awesome resource available for UW library members/students, the Daily Life through History Encyclopedia, that does pretty much what the title implies. Really useful if you want to know how the ancient Mycenaens went about their day-to-day business. You can also get free music from certain libraries. And you thought libraries couldn’t get any cooler.

If you want to get really specific about living during Jane Austen’s time (or you just want to know what Austen means when she talks about a barouche), try this website. I’ve been using it a lot lately, just to understand the atmosphere surrounding the time period.

Baby name websites are like gold. Gold, gold, gold. One website I like is 2000 Names, mostly because of its special categories page, which sorts names into categories like “elemental names” or “color names.”

If you’re looking for some movie-soundtrack-like music for inspiration, try HDSounDI‘s channel on YouTube. It’s AWESOME. Check it out.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I like taking personality tests for my characters sometimes, just to figure out if I know them well enough, or if I think they might all be too similar. I personally like the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator Test, which I usually take at Human Metrics.

A giant encyclopedia of tropes at TV Tropes. Fun to look through, and helpful for simultaneously avoiding cliches and getting ideas.

Well, that’s all I got. I should also mention that I bought a new sketchbook for writing and drawing, in which I drew the picture above. The girl has my haircut.

Good luck to all you writers out there. Or anyone working on anything. I’m rooting for you.