There are two ways to stop writing a story.
Wait, before I get into that, I’ve reminded myself of something else.
No, seriously, the something else: there are two ways to end a story when you, as the writer, completely give up on finishing it. You can either kill off all the characters (or enough of them as to resolve the plot, by way of its invested characters being dead), or you can have someone wake up, and it was all just a dream.
Immature writers think these things are clever. They are not. They occur to all writers, and are a way of getting out of doing the hard work. It’s not hard to write the beginning of a story. It’s not hard to write the middle. It is remarkably hard to write the end. It’s like a sonic boom, if I remember my physics correctly.
(What am I, a Science teacher? Figure it out for yourself.)
That discussion could legitimately fall under the “two ways to stop writing a story” heading, but it’s not what I’d intended. What I mean is, (1) you can burn out on a story by losing interest, or having insufficient energy to push through that barrier and get to the end or (2) you can get distracted by some other project, that draws your attention and energy away from the unfinished work.
I don’t think I’ve ever done (1). That’s what most people call writer’s block. Well, no, that’s what most writers call writer’s block. Everybody else has some strange concept of writer’s block that, honestly, just isn’t relevant.
I’m really bad about (2), though (as you all well know). I don’t let it worry me too much, because I’m young. And because, for the most part, the new project I move on to is generally of at least as high a value as the old one was. I’ve described my writing process here before. I take long breaks, and the project almost always benefits from them.
The problem is…if I die tomorrow, I’ll only have one whole story told. Two, if anyone can dig out a copy of The Poet Alexander. I hate that. I want to think of myself as a novelist, but with all the time I’ve put into it, I’ve only completed two things, and both of them terrible.
Anyway, obviously this has something to do with Sleeping Kings. I am working on it again. Some, a little bit. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to push through the pile of pages, near the end. I’m working on it, though. I’m also becoming diverted more and more, though, by old projects set aside. I came up with a fantastic idea for King Jason’s War the other day, and I’m just itching to write enough of that story that I can use the idea. Incidentally, that’s another story that I set aside around 70%, in the way I’m discussing. Not because I didn’t care anymore, but because I cared about other things that drew me away. It’s a good story, though, and I’d love to get it finished.
I’ve been thinking about my sci-fi stuff, too. Most of you know this story, but shortly after I moved to Tulsa I won a writing contest on the forums of a sci-fi game that was in-development, called Eschaton. The prize for winning the contest was a job as the storyline writer for the game. I was pretty excited.
They never got any backers, though, and after three years of not hearing much from them, the game folded. I asked them for permission to go ahead and write and publish stories set in their universe (on the assumption that any obscene profits I made would eventually translate into them getting their game published), and they were generous enough (or so broken-down) to give me that permission.
It’s a neat universe. They provided me with some basic conceits and general elements, the names of the three major factions and their relationships, and then gave me free reign. In the time I was writing for them, I developed an immense amount of backstory (most of which never even got posted to their website), as well as a “present day” (within the context of the game) storyline concerning goings on in the universe at large.
I might post some clips here, or even make another blog for them, a la Sleeping Kings. We’ll see. Anyway, I find it interesting how much my interest has returned to writing in the last year, so that even when I waver (with the exception of that brief tryst with my programming project), I waver toward other good writing.
Wish me luck. I want to finish Sleeping Kings. I want to finish King Jason’s War. I want to write The Necessary Lie (my first Eschaton book), and probably the vampire book, too. It should be fun. I’ll try to find good ways to share it all with you.
Which reminds me: wasn’t I going to design and maintain a webpage? Ugh. So much to do….