In one of those articles, I mentioned that we ought to keep the end-goal of our stories in mind as we’re penning them. This is crucial for me when I’m drafting (if I know the end of the story before I begin writing) because it keeps me on track. It’s all too easy to fall into rabbit holes of research or let the vein of flexibility stretch well beyond the mark.
By keeping the end-goal in mind, I find motivation for every scene along the way. If I know where the hero or heroine is going to end up, it helps me figure out what errors and successes and twists they ought to experience on their journey in order to reach their lowest lows and highest highs and all the ground explored in between. When I get stuck on a scene, I can remind myself of where I need the characters to reach by the end and sort out how this particular scene relates to that goal.
The end-goal mindset also helps me meet deadlines. If I know when my draft must be completed, then I can do some calculations on how many pages or scenes or chapters I must write in a month, week, or day to be finished on time (preferably early, as last-minute finishes tend to stress me out to some degree). I always figure in some extra days, because inevitably, there will come a moment or two where I get stuck and must use a couple of days sorting out the sticky part and getting the story sailing once again.
While writing The Cottage on the Hill, part of the Springtime in Surrey anthology, I tried to keep the finale in mind. What I pictured for it was a magnificent coda (a balletic term meaning grand finale) for Moira–or so I hoped. In earlier scenes, when she was in the depths of despair over her lost dreams, it would have been easy to let her wallow too long. In fact, in the first draft, I did just that. My editor pointed out that the finale didn’t really work.
When I analyzed the story with that information in mind, I knew it wasn’t the finale itself that was broken, but the scenes leading up to it. So I approached the edits with the final chapter–that end-goal mindset–at the forefront. Every scene was filtered through the lens of the coda Moira deserved. That helped me soften her edges and increase her senses of communication and romance so that the story felt more balanced. After the adjustments, the final chapter worked beautifully.
I might not have perfectly kept the end-goal mindset the first time around, but it served me well deeper in the process for this particular story. From that journey, I have learned that the end-goal mindset is quite crucial for my writing process. It’s how I ensure that all the pieces come together in time to make the finale sing.
Do you keep the end-goal mindset during first drafts?
In life, how does keeping your goals in mind help you along the journey?
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