When people describe themselves as aspiring writers I try to encourage them to begin. You here them say that being faced with a blank page is petrifying, but few people speak of finishing their stories.
Then there are those people who are meticulous planners so they know where their story is going and how it will conclude. That is one way of taking the pain out of the process of ending a story, but not everyone can write like that and prefer to write spontaneously. I fall somewhere between the two.
I begin with a skeletal plan that allows me to take off into the story, but then I write by interacting with characters and the situations in which they find themselves. As the end of the story approaches I may extend my plan but the fundamental process involves a degree of spontaneity with the characters in the story.
Victoria Hall Tragedy
Of course it doesn't always work. I have one story, a historical novel, which is stuck at 11 000 words. There are various reasons for that one of which is the lack of interaction and another possibly the fact that I knew what the ending had to be. My style of writing doesn't allow being dictated to by the subject matter or a particular genre.
It is my theory that writers experience a 'block' when they are trying to produce dictated by outside pressures such as marketability. The obvious corollary is that if you write for the art you may not find your work easy to sell. Imagine someone suggesting you write a story about a boat that hit an iceberg and sank. In the end the boat sinks and many people lose their lives. The excellent story produced is based upon human and class interaction and even when you buy your ticket to go see the film you know that the ship sinks! There has to be that something extra to draw you into shelling out hard earned cash.
My tenth Steele novel, tentatively Building 7, is approaching the end. I have written around 54k words so about three chapters plus an appendix to complete. It is at this point where the final hook, cliffhanger or whatever I decide is relevant, has to be selected and written. Such questions as,
Is this my final Steele novel?
Do I kill him off?
Do I make him disappear?
Will Steele and Kobayashi live happily ever after?
and so on. In the past it has always been quite straightforward because I knew what I wanted from my hero next and he provided me with the relevant story line to close the books. This time is no less straight forward, as the writer I have to make the decision that suits me irrespective of what Patrick A Steele wants.
When I conceived of Steele I could see me writing 10 novels and Building 7 is the tenth. There is an 11th - Cessation - which was a one off dystopian story inspired by the governments hash up of the energy market, but the Steele adventure is over I think. The situation for me is like when you have an aim in mind and you achieve that aim, then you must move on to the next challenge.