Syria, Al-Ghutah : A woman and her children run for cover following reported air strikes by regime forces on  the Kafr Batna town in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 12, 2016. / AFP / AMER ALMOHIBANY                        

anonymous asked:

hi! so i finished most of my nanowrimo novel but i'm really struggling with the ending now. i had an outline when i started but the novel has changed so much as i wrote that the ending i had originally doesn't really fit and i almost feel like my conflict has no real solution now. i've tried giving my novel space and i still feel just as lost. any advice to solving a conflict that seems unsolvable? thanks!

Hi! That’s actually a problem that a lot of writers have at some point in their career, so try not to feel too bad about it, okay?

There are a lot of different types of conflicts, but they can be boiled down into three categories: person vs. person, person vs. nature, and person vs. self.

What is it about the conflict that has caused it to have no real solution? Is it that a character has changed too much? If so, can you add a different character to fill that same role?

Has the environment changed too much? If so, you might be writing a different story altogether! If you’re trying to write, say, a Hunger Games fanfic, and you somehow end up in the world of the Jetsons, it could really tear up your entire concept. How can you bring it back to the original location? Can you break the story into pieces where they go back to where they should be?

If the government is involved in your plot, perhaps you could have someone new take over–violently.

And if it’s person vs. self, then you need to take the time to understand why that conflict doesn’t work anymore. Did they solve a problem too early on? Does the final battle rely on them having a weakness that has already been resolved?

I think what would help is to do what cheaters do when they can’t figure out those little mazes on the backs of children’s menus: start from the end.

This is actually a great technique that I used when I was teaching. It’s called “scaffolding.”

If you’re not sure why, pull up some pictures of scaffolding and humor me, all right?

When you are building, say, a skyscraper, you need to have scaffolding, right? You have to create a net of scaffolding that supports the building. If you don’t know what the building will look like when it’s complete, the scaffolding would be all out of place and wouldn’t end up keeping the building together.

To do scaffolding, all you have to do is work backwards. Pick precisely what you want the ending to be. If you can’t do that, make a list of no more than 3 endings that would be acceptable to you.

Then, ask yourself, “How do we get here?”

If the conflict needs to be resolved by someone who has a certain magical ability, then you need to ask yourself how a person with that ability could find themselves at that crucial point.

Maybe it’s unrealistic. So you have to come up with a bunch of different plot points to get them there.

Maybe your magician has ADHD and keeps getting distracted from their destination. So introduce a character who helps them keep focus.

How would that character end up in the same place as the magician?

If this sounds too confusing, then I think you need to evaluate your characters more! If you understand your characters really well, you’ll immediately see the answer to my questions as you read them.

So I’ve collected some relevant posts from my archive that may help you out. It really depends on what type of conflict you’re trying to solve, so if you feel like these resources don’t help, send me another message asking something more specific so I can help further. :)

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Read the full story here.

We used to laugh at our small selves, saying that I was a bad girl trying to be good and that he was a good boy trying to be bad. Through the years these roles would reverse, then reverse again, until we came to accept our dual natures. We contained opposing principles, light and dark.
—  Patti Smith, Just Kids

“It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.”

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