Well I spend more time reading about writing. I swear, I guess that’s a good thing and bad thing. I came across these tips from Nicholas Sparks in an interview in USA Magazine. They may be useful to you, especially if you write romance.
Mr. Sparks says he needs to know about his characters before he starts writing. I think I shared with you a couple weeks ago my method for drawing up character profiles. It does help to know who will be in the story before you get started. Although, if you’re like me, you tend to add a minor person here and there as you go along, depending on where the characters take you. It is their story after all.
Anyway, Mr. Sparks went on to say the following things are important:
Determine the character’s age. Age informs you about the dilemma the character will face in the story. You can’t write a story about everlasting love if the character is a teenager.
Mr. Sparks says he asks questions because a protagonist without an obstacle doesn’t turn the pages. The best way to do this is by asking the question “What if?”
He goes on to say it’s best to decide on the answers to essential questions before you start writing. “I have to know the age of the characters; I’ve got to know how they meet. I have to know the conflict that’s keeping them apart and what brings them together.”
He finished by saying, “I have to know how it ends. For the author, there are three possible endings: happy, sad, or bittersweet.” He goes on to say that, you have to hit the right tone. “You don’t want to be cliché or melodramatic, and you want the ending to evoke genuine emotion, and that’s tough.”
I never know the endings of my stories when I start out. I do have my character profiles and the place and time for the story, but that’s about all I start with. My characters lead me to the end and through all the scenes as the book goes along.
I do agree that the ending has to be happy, sad, or bittersweet, unless it leaves you hanging in a way that leads into the next book in a series. The emotional end is good for romance. I tend to like the endings that are a bit shocking and not something I totally expected. This works well with other genres, especially mystery and suspense. What do you think?