When do you decide a story is done? (How big is too big?)

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north2alaska

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I'm currently working on a story, based off a dream I had. Initially I meant for it to be short, fast and steamy.

BUT I genuinely like my characters now! And I keep imagining different situations and scenes to write. Currently in my Google Doc is at 130 pages, roughly. And this is literally only one week in the story. I am getting geared up to start doing time skips, so I imagine I will be bearing the end soon.

Also are such large (pun intended ;)) stories welcome here? Objectively I could trim it down, but I'm having fun exploring with these characters.
 

BigElectricKat

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Yeah, no.
That's a good question. I haven't posted any new chapters to my story in a while, mainly because i haven't been inspired (I really need a muse) but also I would like to find an ending point that makes sense.
 

magodamilion2

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This is something I have a hard time with too. I have a story now that I think has gotten unreasonably long. And I have an ending mostly written but it is way way too long and I'm struggling to figure out how to condense it.

I do think 130 pages is probably a fine length though. That's really only like three pages on here.

I think a story is too long when it feels like there are too many chapters in a row where very little changes. It can be fun to write these kinds of exploratory chapters, but I think if they come in a row in can be excessive and some need to be cut.
 

BigElectricKat

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Yeah, no.
I'm currently working on a story, based off a dream I had. Initially I meant for it to be short, fast and steamy.

BUT I genuinely like my characters now! And I keep imagining different situations and scenes to write. Currently in my Google Doc is at 130 pages, roughly. And this is literally only one week in the story. I am getting geared up to start doing time skips, so I imagine I will be bearing the end soon.

Also are such large (pun intended ;)) stories welcome here? Objectively I could trim it down, but I'm having fun exploring with these characters.
I think one of the stories I have on here is up to chapter 18. There is a character limit of 10,000 characters (spaces included) so I've often had to condense to fit for space.
 

Tad

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When I was younger I'd quite enjoyed some Lewis Caroll stuff, so I picked up his collected works. And there I met "Bruno and Sylvie" (IIRC). It had parts as clever, as charming, and as funny as the Alice stories. But it went on, and on, and on. I got through it eventually, but despite the cleverness it became a pure slog.

Please don't write Bruno and Sylvie! Have an end point in mind. If you love your characters, go ahead and write several stories about them. But remember that if you want people to read your story, respect their time, and don't make the story longer than it needs to be.
 

north2alaska

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This is something I have a hard time with too. I have a story now that I think has gotten unreasonably long. And I have an ending mostly written but it is way way too long and I'm struggling to figure out how to condense it.

I do think 130 pages is probably a fine length though. That's really only like three pages on here.

I think a story is too long when it feels like there are too many chapters in a row where very little changes. It can be fun to write these kinds of exploratory chapters, but I think if they come in a row in can be excessive and some need to be cut.

Good point! I have a hard time gauging how the pages transfer over to here. I want it complete before I post it
 

north2alaska

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When I was younger I'd quite enjoyed some Lewis Caroll stuff, so I picked up his collected works. And there I met "Bruno and Sylvie" (IIRC). It had parts as clever, as charming, and as funny as the Alice stories. But it went on, and on, and on. I got through it eventually, but despite the cleverness it became a pure slog.

Please don't write Bruno and Sylvie! Have an end point in mind. If you love your characters, go ahead and write several stories about them. But remember that if you want people to read your story, respect their time, and don't make the story longer than it needs to be.

Excellent tip, thank you! I have an end point in mind that hopefully will be a quick, but eventful, trip to get there. I just can't get carried away
 
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I personally prefer shorter stories that I can read in a few sittings. If the story is too long, I either get lost (especially online) or lose interest. But that's just my personal opinion, and I have written a few longer stories myself (my longest was about 100 pages, I think). If your story is getting too long, maybe you could also consider offering it as an ebook on CreateSpace or a similar platform. It's not necessary to charge the readers if you so choose.
 

EmilyEW

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Story creep is a common thing with us amateur writers. When I write, I try to set each chapter or perhaps a few chapters as a mini-story itself. It is very tempting to go day by day, hour by hour and then nothing much is happening.

In weight gain fiction, there isn't much material for a longer story unless you put something else to it- mystery, sci-fi plot, etc, so the short story format works best. Still a short story needs to be well planned and it has to have something that makes it unique. There is the snowflake method of writing. Basically, you start by writing a short description of the story, then start adding to it. Now if the short description of your story reads "a slim girl gets fat", you know you have a problem because you basically don't have a story. One can stretch that description into 'bad' short story or a 'very bad' long story.
 

stevita

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Here's the trick for writing a long story. In every chapter, answer a question that was raised to the reader earlier in the story. Then, give the reader a new question to ask.
 
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I have nothing against stories that turn into serials. There are many great classics, which are serials, because each chapter can be taken as a story in itself. I have the greatest respect for such works. Many of them are amongst my favourite literary works. However, that isn't how I write.

I believe in planning a story, before doing any writing. I believe in beginnings, middles and ends. A story should not be a random series of events. Each event should follow on as a natural consequence of previous events but the reader/audience should not be able to see what is coming next. I like to write stories, which unfold with unforeseeable inevitability. I don't use the "deus ex machina". I believe it to be a sign of bad writing. If you have to introduce a new element to the story line in order to rescue a character, that is a "deus ex machina". It stops the story from unfolding with each event being a consequence of previous events and that means that you are writing a random string of events rather than a story.

I decide when a story will end, before I have even started writing it. The story ends, where it ends, because that is where I have decided to end it.

I also finish a story completely, before I start posting chapters of it. I do this in case I suddenly find myself too busy to continue writing the story. These days I never post all of a story at once. It seems to be such a waste of effort to spend months writing a story only to give an hour or two of enjoyment to readers. So, I post only a chapter or two at a time to maintain the suspense and excitement for days, weeks or even months.
 

agouderia

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I believe in planning a story, before doing any writing.

This is in essence what it boils down to.

Sometimes, when real inspiration hits 2-3 initial chapters write themselves easily - and it is okay to give into that urge. At the latest after that is finished it is time to sit down and plan where the story, meaning the characters, is heading. Coming up with an - at least preliminary - ending is helpful in my experience. I've even written stories where the final chapter was one of the first ones finished. Because if you know the end, it is easier to map out ways of getting there. Which events, developments would be decisive to reach that point? How should the character/s evolve in the process? Do any additional characters need to be included to move the storyline along? But also - what can be left out, which scenes, characters, etc. might be nice to have, but do not really add anything to the story, even if they are expanded?
 
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This is in essence what it boils down to.

Sometimes, when real inspiration hits 2-3 initial chapters write themselves easily - and it is okay to give into that urge. At the latest after that is finished it is time to sit down and plan where the story, meaning the characters, is heading. Coming up with an - at least preliminary - ending is helpful in my experience. I've even written stories where the final chapter was one of the first ones finished. Because if you know the end, it is easier to map out ways of getting there. Which events, developments would be decisive to reach that point? How should the character/s evolve in the process? Do any additional characters need to be included to move the storyline along? But also - what can be left out, which scenes, characters, etc. might be nice to have, but do not really add anything to the story, even if they are expanded?

I like the idea of the last chapter being one of the first ones written. I can certainly see how it would help to give a story a good "shape". In fact, I think that I'll have to try the technique out.
 

maltesefalcon

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I like the idea of the last chapter being one of the first ones written. I can certainly see how it would help to give a story a good "shape". In fact, I think that I'll have to try the technique out.

I do that with every story. Think of a road trip. You need to have a starting point and a destination right from the get go. All your dialogue and plot should lead to the finale.

That's why it's hard to publish a good story in bits because you don't know where to stop. Also most likely why there are so many unfinished ones on this site.

Finally, the ending is the most crucial part of a book, story or film as it will define your mood when you are done. How many times have you read or sat through one that you found enjoyable only to say the ending sucked?
 
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I do that with every story. Think of a road trip. You need to have a starting point and a destination right from the get go. All your dialogue and plot should lead to the finale.

That's why it's hard to publish a good story in bits because you don't know where to stop. Also most likely why there are so many unfinished ones on this site.

Finally, the ending is the most crucial part of a book, story or film as it will define your mood when you are done. How many times have you read or sat through one that you found enjoyable only to say the ending sucked?

I totally agree. My end point is always defined, before I start writing, i.e. the last chapter is written in note form and just needs fleshing out. With the next story I write I will try fleshing out the last chapter first.
 

Tad

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I eventually learned not to start posting a story without knowing how it ends, but honestly most of my stories came to me as a situation or a character that intrigued me enough to start exploring it, and that can make it difficult to decide where to end the thing because where is the end of a person's story, presuming you don't want to track them until their death? Which I suppose is where plot needs to come in, but in turn it can feel very artificial to force plot onto a character. I have so many not-posted story starts than I've ever posted because of this issue.
 

mal57

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I've managed to finish quite a few stories, long and short, but there are many more on my Google Drive and elsewhere that were abandoned. Some of these were doomed from the start but some were really promising and they haunt me. There are stories I've been working on 5 years or more. One is 250 pages and I'm not sure it'll ever make it off my laptop.

I almost never write with outlines or an idea of how things will end, and more often than not I start strong and then drive into a ditch. Unfortunately I can't help it; I've tried outlining a few times and it didn't work. For me the act of writing is trance-like, where I themes, characters, and plot reveal themselves as I go along, as if they're not even out of my own brain. I invent stories in my head too, but something about pen on paper/fingers on keyboard makes it that much more real. Without that sense of discovery I find I quickly lose interest, no matter how intriguing the idea.

That said, I don't recommend it. I honestly wish I could write to an outline because it would be far more efficient. Even with the stories I've finished, I've found that once a conclusion has started to suggest itself, I then have to go back and do hours of reconning to make it work. This often makes for a better story overall but jesus, this is supposed to be a hobby, not work! One recent discovery I made was that many if not most mystery writers start at the end and then construct the plot to fit it. I definitely want to try that, seems like it may be a good solution to my "Finishitis" dilemma.
 
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I eventually learned not to start posting a story without knowing how it ends, but honestly most of my stories came to me as a situation or a character that intrigued me enough to start exploring it, and that can make it difficult to decide where to end the thing because where is the end of a person's story, presuming you don't want to track them until their death? Which I suppose is where plot needs to come in, but in turn it can feel very artificial to force plot onto a character. I have so many not-posted story starts than I've ever posted because of this issue.

I can really identify with this. It raises the interesting question of how plots are conceived in the first place and it is obvious that this happens differently for different people. These days, my plots tend to be quite simple.

For example, I have in mind a story, in which a TV fitness guru is kidnapped by fat activists. Until their demands, including a large ransom are met, they fatten him up by force feeding him. By the time that the demands are met and he is release, they have fattened him up to about 600 lb - and he likes it. It's a pretty simple plot and the end is there right from it's inception.

Perhaps other people's plots are more involved right from the start. There is great literature like this. It's just that it is easier to know where to end, when the end has been planned right from the start.
 

Tad

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'Premise', that is the word that didn't come to me earlier. I often come up with a premise which does not inherently lead to an ending, get excited to start exploring, then realize sooner or later that I don't have an ending.

Crows & Butterflies is one that I made the mistake of posting the start of on here years ago. It starts when a college aged FA (and not-fully-admitted feeder) brings his somewhat punk bbw girlfriend to see the part of a synchronized skating competition, because the guy's sister and former ice-dance partner are on one of the teams. He has this history in the very thin and fit skating world, with all its glam and costumes and performances, and his whole family is still very involved with that world. Meanwhile his girlfriend is the complete opposite of all of that -- the title comes from her observation upon meeting the team that she feels like a crow among butterflies. We then get to see him interacting with his former partner, and they are still good friends riffing off each other. There are some other character twists (the former partner is gay and he is straight ... except that he is realizing that he is more bi when it comes to really fat, soft, men, and I had something in mind for the gf that I forget currently), but ultimately it is the story of trying to bridge two very different worlds, or possibly choosing one over the other.

Premise established. Characters have room to grow. His avid and open enjoyment of his gf gives room to bring in FA elements. But I have never figured out what the ending should be, so after a few chapters of hoping that it would come to me as I wrote, I realized that I was just flailing about. I stopped posting more until I had an outline, and while I've tried picking up the story again (if only because I love that title), but have never come up with an outline that felt right to me. I feel like figuring out an ending shouldn't be so hard, but I go into some sort of paralysis by analysis and get stuck.

Some stories come with a more obvious arc (Cecilia's Deal is the result of a Hollywood star's deal with the devil coming due, where she will gain a pound a day for an entire year unless she signs over her soul. I'm not happy with my execution of the story, but the arc was obvious so I could grind it out). But if anyone else has dealt with the curse of premise and figured out their solution for it, I'd love to hear it.
 

EmilyEW

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I think everyone agrees that writing an outline, characters then the story is the most professional way. But it may feel more like work than fun.
Like when I am painting and I start with a sketch. It is the proper way, but if the painting is just my hobby, heck I can just take a brush and start painting at any time I wish, then go buy milk, play games, fluff the cat, and some other day maybe paint a little more in the opposite corner of my canvas. I am painting a scene or premise and it will suck big time in the end because I had no idea where I was going the whole time, and changed that non-existent idea ten times, but I don't give a flying duck because I don't need anyone to display my painting in their stuffy living room. I've got everything from it when I was painting it and there was nothing left to get when it was finished. It is liberating to go about art without the commitment of an artwork.
 
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