Mozart’s Brain, Too
What?? More Random Creative Writing Squibs??
…And More Odd Things To Consider??…
Broadsheet No. 2.7 – The End Is In Sight
This is a Shakespir edition 2016
Copyright August 2016
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[A broadsheet is, well… You already know, because I say it before every Mozart’s Brain Broadsheet. Go ahead… Nail it to a tree. Or to the cathedral doors in Worms, Germany, like Martin Luther did a couple hundred years ago. ‘Nuff said…]
What??… The End??… end??…
Well, actually, what I mean is, the End Be In Sight. Especially for the Greatest American Novel you’re writing with religious devotion.
Seriously, I’m going to use an iron-clad principle from another profession entirely, but one which, like creative writing (or any writing, for that matter), demands we obey it if we want to turn out a really good story. The profession I’m talking about is… Wait for it… Project Management!!!… (Cheers… Yay…)
Think about it for a moment. Any project planning which starts – Starts, mind! – without a crisply defined end result, or clearly circumscribed outcome, is doomed to fail. That’s right. Doomed. I’ve seen enough of them, so I know. In fact, Chinese wisdom says, ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.’
Badly defined outcomes are the origin for Murphy’s Law – ‘If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong, in the worst possible way, at the most embarrassing time.’
Of course, we also must mention O’Malley’s Corollary: ‘Murphy was an optimist.’
How’s that for pith?…
Now, let’s get to the heart of this. In a project, the end result is something which is, quite literally, built to deliver whatever the client has said they want. So a project is much like an assembly process, making and/or picking the exact parts you need from a huge bowl, looking at them and seeing how they must fit together, and then putting everything in its place at the right time, in the right amounts. Imagine how a car’s parts, all laid out on a large grassy plot, have to be assembled in sequence and with the exact tools needed in order to deliver a car which operates as it is intended. Not simple.
A novel is somewhat like that.
Now, let’s talk for a minute about why, for some people, this might be hard to do. These writers have a very organic flowing approach to creative writing. Somehow – even they don’t know how (Uhh… I dunno… I just do it…) – the words and sentences and scenes just ‘flow’ from their pen, or fingers to keys. Beginning writers often are captured by this ‘moment’ of illuminated expression. They think they’ve found the ‘gift’ of writing, and set off with a wonderful childlike enthusiasm to write the whole story from scratch. Tsk, tsk…
They usually haven’t found the ‘gift’ and at some point end up with what we technically call a ‘mess.’ And it’s as much because they have not scripted out what the last scene – the dénouement, the endpoint – of their story is. And any experienced writer, even those who are ‘pantsers’, as these organic flow types are called, (as opposed to the planners), will tell us we have to know what the last scene, or outcome, of our story is before we begin to write the very first sentence in the very first chapter.
Of course, the writer might get discouraged and think, ‘How in h*** do I know what the end is?... I haven’t gotten there yet!...’ True... But you really ought to be able to construct an outcome or a scene which, like the Old Western with the girl in the hero’s arms with the sunset turning a glorious red-orange in the distance, brings the story to its oh-so-satisfying close with a soft sigh from the reader as they wipe the tears off their cheeks.
Now, don’t think you can’t change the ending scene. Probably you’ll come up with a number of ideas about how your story should or might end, each more alluring than the last. But at some point, when you get really excited to start the (now suddenly tedious?…) process of actually writing your novel in order to bring this fabulous jewel of an ending to the reader, you should have settled on the ending itself.
Because the story’s structure, its plotpoints and phases – chapter by chapter, scene by scene – must build to that ending, with tension growing at the right pace, with the conflict appearing at the right time to draw the reader helplessly forward, with the confrontation and resolution following in the right moments and with the best intensity to make the story a breathless one, even if the reader is hard-bitten.
Can we do this? Of course we can! But ya gotta have patience, and restrain your hurrying fingers!!! And having a clear ending makes it so much easier to begin the story’s detailed planning – or ‘flow’ writing, if that’s what you want to start doing – that you’ll wonder why you hadn’t done this end-scene construction first before you wrote your other Greatest novels (if you haven’t done so before…).
Funny thing about well-described endings. They can actually inspire your thinking about the story itself, and how it progresses to the end, in ways you didn’t think of at first. They can give you insights about the way characters develop, and how relationships evolve. But it also forces you to examine how your story unfolds, so the timing and actions are consistent, not out of order, and not in contradiction. So in these ways, it helps you add more structure and depth. It might even make you ask if you’re writing the right story, the best story… Wow…
And you’ll find a lot more satisfaction as you approach the level of professionalism in writing which gives you real joy in the craft.
A pretty good deal, in my opinion…
About The Author, Wim Baren
Wim Baren is the pen name of the author, who has had an abiding fascination with history and the many things throughout it that are so incredible that they could not have been made up.
The author attended an eastern college and then served in the nation’s armed forces for three years in Viet Nam, a very green place with, at that time, a high metallic density to the air.
From there, he realized that his technology education at college was already obsolete, and went to a small business school where he learned all about strategy and business and finance, and entered the financial services business, in which he labored until he realized that people wanted not so much advice as they wanted help on actually getting things done that they wanted to get done.
He turned his hand to consulting in project management, became an independent consultant, developed professional education courses in projects and risk and leadership, even a software learning application (!), and generally made as if this were his final career choice.
But it wasn’t.
And since I’ve turned my hand to authorship, this little work, among other offerings, was a quick brainwave that I thought I could share with others who might like a little literary confection, coupling the worlds of the real and fantasy.
Feedback (What you really think, but please keep it polite, respectful, as others would do for you) is really welcomed from you, as well as your recommending this little opinion to your friends and family, and neighbors, and passing strangers.
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