Okay fellas. Let me bring you up to speed on things: writing is confusing. There are characters and dialogue and dramatic irony and scene visualization... you get it, the list goes on and on. Even the professionals don't know where to begin. Now that's where I come in. Critics help authors improve and reach out to their readers with brand spanking new stories. Tonight (Friday, October 4). I will be answering any and all question coming my way on writing on this forum. Ready? Set? Ask away!
Questions about our program? Check out the page here.
I've always had a problem with endings. Mine tend to be abrupt, and sometimes needlessly ambiguous, according to some readers. That is, if I can come up with an ending at all.
On the other hand, I feel like drawing the ending out would dilute the emotional impact, especially since many of my stories involve twist endings.
Any advice would be much appreciated. I know I've giving few details, but I'm really not sure where to start.
Really the best thing to do in your case is layout your stories from beginning to end. Know where you want to take it and where the plot is going in a different direction. By definition the ending should be where all points converge and you tie up lose ends. Build up to the ending and leave nothing to chance (unless you plan a sequel and/or cliffhanger).
Drawing the ending out? Sorry, you have to be more specific than that. Do you mean like they take too long to climax or the ending never seems to come?
I mean, I tend to make them rather abrupt, rather than risk diluting their emotional impact by slowing them down.
Ah, I see. The emotional impact won't dull if you keep the story moving. Don't rush it. Just move towards a goal and show that the characters want to be victorious over self, other man, creature, etc. The reader will invest in it too if he relates with the characters and their struggles.
I've been trying to get into writing but from what I've seen my time as a Dungeon Master is both helping and crippling me.
I've been told I have incredibly vivid─bordering occasionally long-winded─descriptions of the scenery but tend to go overboard with meaningless details. A cast-off from the advice "The best way to hide texture is with texture: if everything is worthy of notice, nothing is." Same thing with my worlds, as I'll spend weeks building the internal politics of a small town that never gets visited but is mentioned in passing. You never know if Gloopenshire III is going to be the random choice the players make, except when you're an author. Still nailing that one down.
On the complete other side of the scale my characters are two-dimensional archetypes with absolutely no depth or sense of being a real sentient being. I've developed a skill for making scenarios and objects to work on, but I've grown used the characters who actually drive the story being done without my interference.
tl;dr: What would you recommend for making compelling characters? What are some ways to flesh a character out without sixteen pages of backstory?
How do I decide what is important to the scene and what isn't? Is there a taxonomy for how to selectively build a world without obsessive detailing?
What would you recommend for making compelling characters? What are some ways to flesh a character out without sixteen pages of backstory?
Good question. To this I refer to the good advice of the writers of My Little Pony themselves during a panel at Canterlot Garden (I would link it but I lost the video). When they were writing My Little Pony, they wanted to make characters that could bounce off of each other and could easily come in pairs. For example: Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, RD finds Pinkie goofy or each straight up outrageous at times, but because they like to play and screw around, they get along. Pair your characters likewise and you'll quickly see that they'll develop as the story progresses and character arcs are revealed.
Unfortunately there isn't a concrete answer to this. The best advice I can give you is to a.) practice reading your story out loud to another person and see if it flows smoothly and b.) practice writing your surroundings and cutting out the fat. You're right for the most part: too many details bury the valuable ones.
On world building: again, no solid answer. However, I will tell you this: a story quickly loses my attention when it delivers its exposition as a history lesson. Bring the backstory down to earth. Make it relatable and show how it's affecting the characters and their surroundings.
I really like your stories, and due in a big part to your endings. It's very good for horror writing.
Thanks for taking the time to answer, I'll try to keep that in mind.