The Asymptotic Ending

asymptoteAs I come to the end of my novel I find that the effort required to write is increasing exponentially in proportion to how close I am to the end.

All of the threads in the story are coming together and my mind is working overtime to hold all of them in place.

Plus, I have a fear that the story will not come to an organized end.

The last two scenes of The Tome of Worlds are an epic city siege of Koronan and an exhalation of sorts before the second novel begins. Even though I know how the battle turns and how the story concludes itself I find myself not wanting to put the protagonist, Aedinn Finn, into the fray.

These fears remind me of an awful story I wrote years ago called Threads of TimeI wrote the story during the summer of 1999 while I was working at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Sign

Los Alamos National Laboratory Sign (Photo credit: Cavalier92)

I had just won an award for science fiction writing at MIT, and I thought quite well of myself, so I tackled a story I had wanted to write for some time on the question of faith–God, destiny, and all of that.

In Threads of Time, the protagonist, let’s call him George, started to have dreams about a place that existed outside of time. The place he imagined outside of time was a bar where notable figures from throughout history came and mingled with each other. Each person within the bar thought they were dreaming, but while they were there they were inspired to the achievements for which they became known.

Einstein was there. Newton. Hemingway. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but that was not the point of the story. Threads of Time was about an approaching nexus.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went with the idea that every time we make a decision, two possible realities are created–one reality for each decision you could have made. With billions and billions of people throughout our history there would be an exponentially increasing number of threads in the human existence.

In Threads of Time a nexus approached where all of the threads created throughout human history were coming together to one point.

Much like my novel.

In Threads of Time George had to push the human race through the nexus through an act of faith.

I was hoping I could do the same with The Tome of Worlds.

Threads of Time was a good short story idea, but in the end I could not bring the story together.

Oh, I finished it. Wrote an ending, but the ending was not satisfying. The story was my attempt at dealing with my own questions about and issues with the subject of faith.

As you can see, I didn’t deliver.

And now, as I come to the end of The Tome of Worlds, I feel that the curse of Threads of Time is coming back, but in a bigger way since The Tome of Worlds is much more massive.

If only I could dream of the bar, go there, and be inspired to finish the story.

Writing the penultimate scene as I wrote the rest of the novel, on faith and instinct, isn’t going to work, I realize. I have to organize the last battle, something I loathe doing, but I see no other way around attacking the problem.

Yesterday I drew a map of Koronan, which I had yet to do, because up to this point the only part of the story that took place in Koronan was the beginning when Aedinn Finn was imprisoned in Kol Uthera. He never went outside the Tower. epic battle scene

I needed a battle map, similar to the maps I used when I played Dungeons and Dragons and Mech Warrior with my D20 dice.

Up to this point I had avoided any advice on writing, because I’d had my fill of writing advice. I have stacks and stacks of writing books that I read long ago. The last thing I wanted to do was read another piece about writing, but I needed a nudge.

I came across this site on writing fantasy battle scenes.

http://www.stormthecastle.com/mainpages/for_writers/writing-a-fantasy-battle-scene.htm

Common sense, really. Just organization, but I needed to see the advice even if I knew what I needed to do.

The point of my rambling in this post is that even though I have well founded fears about the end of the novel the way to attack those fears is to just write. Just do it.

Even if I go back and scrap the entire final battle scene just write it.

I wish a bar would open in my dreams and help me finish the novel, but that’s not going to happen.

However, I will go to a real bar when the novel is done.

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12 thoughts on “The Asymptotic Ending

  1. i rarely have problems with ending… all the stories I have lined up have amazing wonderful epic endings… it’s the middle that gets me… mainly because I already have an ending and then I’m trying to push everything to an ending that may no longer fit as I’m slowly scraping through the middle… in the end… i wish i didn’t have endings… it would make my life so much easier… 😀

    • Well, I know how the story ends. It’s bringing all of the disparate threads together and packaging them with a nice bow on top that pains me right now.
      And even though I know how the story ends, the protagonist, Aedinn Finn, is behaving in ways that surprise me, which leads me to believe that the ending may not play out how I have envisioned.

      • it seems we might just be in the same boat… to be honest the one book i actually finished was the one I had no idea how it would end… the idea wasn’t even mine… it was my sister’s… so i was just slapping something out for her as a bit of fun and distraction and as the characters came alive they were the ones the led me to where it was going and after years of trying i finally finished something… that’s why i said sometimes it’s better to have no ending… to just let what happens happen…

  2. Reminded of Hemingway’s quote from my t-shirt: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed” 🙂

  3. Tell yourself you will write several endings, so the first version is not important. And/or do automatic writing where you don’t think, just let your subconscious control your fingers. A lot of the lose ends in my novel got tied together by my subconscious when I wasn’t even trying to tie them together–at all stages of the manuscript. The words just spewed out through my hands onto paper or computer, surprising me.

    • I’m trying to do automatic writing, but I keep worrying that the threads will not come together. I have to realize that if I leave some threads undone I can always come back and revise them to a conclusion.

      • Try telling yourself you’re going to do automatic writing that will probably not resolve your threads, and you’re doing it to see how the story will end if the threads are not resolved. It might take the pressure off, in which case your brain is more likely, sooner or later, to resolve them. You don’t have to find the perfect ending–that’s too daunting. Tell yourself you might write half a dozen endings and then, if you don’t like any of them, you’ll decide what to do. Writing a book is not a race. You’re not stuck with the first draft. In fact, write a silly draft you know you won’t use.

      • Takes conditioning though. I can’t turn off so easily the feeling that I am coming to the end of the story.

        I never gave a thought to writing multiple endings. That might be fun.

  4. Chris, I was struggling for a word I couldn’t find, when I wrote the above. It was “riff”. Elizabeth Warren, I think–not sure about the last name–wrote a great book, that’s my bible, on rewriting your own book. She says if any character or scene needs expanding, write a riff–whatever comes into your head–for 20 minutes or so. You might not use much or any of it, but it will tell you a lot about your character or scene. People hire her to edit their books, and she said she always tells them more things need expanding than cutting, and to write a riff on each one. I’d think it’d work on a thread you need to tie up. Write whatever comes into your head about the thread, silly or not, for half an hour. If you don’t get anything useable, try again another day. It gets one past a block.

    • Right now I am inching towards the end, when before I was zooming.
      The scene I am writing could use a riff. I’m not blocked. I’m just going at a snail’s pace.
      Let me know the author and title of the book. I plan to read a novel editing book during the month I let the novel sit.

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