Sometimes the type of Writer’s Block we have to face doesn’t come at the beginning, or right around page 47. Sometimes it comes right towards the very end of the story – because we either don’t want to finish the story or we don’t know how. This is when Type 3 Writer’s Block hits, and what I want to discuss in-depth here.
There are 4 reasons the Type 3 Writer’s Block can happen and 4 ways to overcome those reasons. Here we go.
1. Don’t forget you can always write another story.
There’s a funny sort of thing that happens with a lot of writers, and it sometimes prevents us from fulfilling our goals: we love our characters. This attachment is essential to writing deeper characters that feel real.
When the writer cares what happens, the readers will too. If there’s just no love there at all, that lack comes through on every page. If the writer doesn’t care, we won’t care either. We all know it when we see it. None of us want to produce that.
But this caring about the characters can sometimes lead to our not wanting to part with them. So we find (quite subconsciously) ludicrous ways and reasons to not finish the story.
The best way to over come this is to recognize it and simply overcome it. You can always write another book about the characters! So don’t let leaving them behind long enough to bring a sense of closure prevent you from completing a manuscript.
This isn’t the only cause for this kind of writer’s block, though. The other reason is much more difficult to deal with, but it is doable. I promise!
2. Required moods of the ending.
Many writers just don’t know how to write a good story’s end. Bringing closure to a story isn’t that simple, and the difficulty often comes around the climactic moment of the plot. HOW do I write a solid climax and then follow that up with a satisfying wrap-up?
Remember: illustrated storybooks always have a happy ending. ALWAYS. So put yourself in the mind of the reader. You’re not the writer right now. You’re about to turn the page.
What do you want to see there? What words do you want to hear read aloud for you?
The climax of a storybook is also known as the pay-off. In many stories, this pay-off is really funny for kids and it makes parents smile. In some, it’s more a strong affirmation of love:
- the love within family (I love you no matter what),
- love of nature (take care of bunny, care for the land),
- love of friends (hug and make up, accept our differences),
- love of learning (I can do it! Yay!).
And many more. Though we might not think of it as specifically love (it could be more about respect, honor, compassion, etc.), it’s essentially love and affirming how we express that in various positive ways.
The style and mood of whatever you write for the ending should be one of these things:
Even if the bulk of your storybook is melancholy (as some books confront serious, real-life issues), the story should not end on that note. There must always be hope in your storybook ending.
3. How to start at the end when you’ve been writing from the beginning.
There are some writers who just cannot manage to write a solid ending, and I suspect it’s because they don’t know to do one particular thing: start with the ending.
This is some of the best writing advice I was ever given, and I feel it my duty to share this tip whenever I can – because I know that most people don’t know about it.
Now, if you’re stuck at the end of the story you’ve been writing – this tip doesn’t help you much. Right? Well…
What I recommend in this case is erasing (from your mind, as best you can) everything you’ve written. Just clear it out. Bring the essence of the characters back into your mind. You don’t know anything about what they’ve done, just who they are and what they’re about.
Now imagine: what do you want to happen to them? In what climactic moment would you want to see those characters and in what way would you like to part from them? What do you see happening on those last pages?
What makes you feel satisfied given the type of stories these characters would tell?
NOTE: If you only create characters for a single story, you will subconsciously limit the depth of your character’s development. For this reason, it’s important to create fully developed Character Profiles, ones that reach well beyond the limits of any given book. If the characters are simple archetypes, this doesn’t really apply. But if you want to create characters that feel real, create that depth with a full profile.
Picture in your mind what you would love to see happen, and you’ll see some great options appear before you. Write all of them down (seriously - learn from my mistakes here and actually write them all down because no matter how great your ideas, you will not remember after you’ve done X, Y and Z first) and then use the one that works best.
You might need to tweak some of the earlier pages, but if it means ending the book with a knock-out The End that makes people want to start from the beginning all over again, it’s more than worth it, right?
4. Build inspiration, expectation & the need to follow-through.
If the story’s final pages still elude you, ask a child. Even a shy, reserved child will have lots of ideas about how to end your story. You will probably not use any of their ideas, but whatever they suggest will trigger inspiration in you – because they will remind you of your younger self.
You need your younger self and your mature self to write a good story.
Talking with a child will make you all the more earnest about being able to actually show them a finished book as soon as possible, one they can hold in their little hands.
Children don’t understand the concept of, “I’m working on it; it isn’t a book yet.” Books are something that simply exist in their reality, so the idea that someone has to create it first (or that in fact many someones often create a book) is a completely foreign idea.
This expectation and anticipation works on a writer of storybooks unlike any sort of peer pressure you’ve ever faced. There’s nothing quite as disheartening as letting down a child who is excited about reading your story. Reading! So finish the story!
Here are the really fun ways to improve your writing! Really invaluable advice.
Find your niche of child readers in your neighborhood. If you don’t know where or how to start with that, here are my suggestions:
- Go to your local library. Talk to a librarian about reading your story in the children’s section of the library. Explain that you want to test the mock-up before publication. Your librarian will have ideas of how to make this happen.
- Go to the nearest daycare center &/or kindergarten and ask if you might read your mock-up to the kids there. You should also prepare a simple (read: SIMPLE!) crafts project that you can do with the kids afterward.
- Ask your friends who have kids if they could read your story mock-up to their kids at bedtime (if the story is right for that – during the day if it’s more of an activity book). Then get their feedback.
This might sound like a lot of work. It really isn’t. Well… ok, the first couple of times it’s pretty exhausting and even a little nerve wracking (and yes, I mean wracking, not racking). But as you do this over and over, it becomes increasingly easier. And though it is work, it’s some of the best fun you’ll ever have.
These are all methods I’ve tried, and each experience provided me with completely different feedback and insight. What you feel comfortable doing is up to you, but if you are serious about creating a really good story, taking these extra steps will take you very far in improving your writing, especially when it comes to building plot and ending the story strong.
And at last, finishing your story.
Keep creating, no matter what.