Creative Dissonance: Does the end game matter?

So after spending a weekend with my head buried in the story that I’m writing and eventually breaking out fifteen pages, I’ve realized something critical.  I have no idea where the story is going.  I have general plot lines that I want to follow, and I know what the motivations of the main characters are.  But I realize that the multiple plot lines and motivations don’t have a logical conclusion. 

I’ve never been big on outlines.  I tend to let my creative mind run wild and simply fill paper with words in hopes that my mind can draw the connections through the story without outside influence.  I remember as a kid, sitting at a desk with a pencil and paper writing page upon page of a story, losing myself in time and space until I finally ran out of lead and had to sharpen my pencil.  Did he just say sharpen his pencil?  Yes, there was a time once when people actually had to write their thoughts down on paper with a pencil that you had to sharpen with a small sharpened piece of metal. 

As someone who just lets the story spill out onto the paper, how do you ensure that your plot lines are all working towards the same conclusion?  I’ve considered writing each individual  plot line as separate stories and eventually pulling them together, making them link.  Unfortunately, I realized if I did that, I’d probably end up with multiple stories that have no linkage to the others.  Recently a friend introduced me to Scrivener which I find to be a very well thought out writing program.  Being able to break up different character plot lines from the main story while keeping the other plot lines close by may be a step in the right direction, but the overarching question still stands….. Do you need to decide on an ending to build the plot lines towards, or do you let the words flow and clean up later hoping everything comes together! 

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One thought on “Creative Dissonance: Does the end game matter?

  1. Ok, so here are my thoughts on this. Every character in your story has a goal, right? After all, they are going places. They aren’t just sitting by idly. You have to determine those goals. If character A has a goal of “steal the McGuffin and retire stupidly wealthy”, and character B has a goal of “protect the McGuffin from those lazy ass freeloaders who want to steal it so they can retire stupidly wealthy”, then you have a clear climax to a story – the point where the goals of character A and character B collide. Your story ends in the aftermath of that collision – either character A was successful and is now sipping mojitos on a Caribbean beach while character B is a.) plotting revenge, b.) foiled beyond hopes of revenge or c.) dead…or character B is basking in the grandeur of a job well done and character A is suffering similar drawbacks to that last bit. Either way, conflict is the key to the story – and that conflict often comes where goals collide.

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