I am 20% outliner and 80% discovery writer, (I know many will object that this is not possible) meaning, I have a very brief outline of what is going to happen in the end and then I go on filling the story in discovery writing way.

At the moment I have almost finished my novella but the last two chapters are not coming to me. I just know what is going to happen in the end.

It's been a long time that the story is not coming to me. Sometime back when I was writing I had periods of inspiration when the story flowed and periods of inactive pessimism.

I want to ask the discovery writers that what to do in periods of hibernation when the story is not coming. Do you blog? or keep writing something else, or just stare at the screen till story happens in mind. How to boost the imagination about and around the story?

6 Answers 6


I am a discovery writer. I agree with Liquid, I don't leave it alone. If I get stuck, I edit my story so far. I will start reading, from the beginning, and if I see anything worth fixing, I do.

If I finish and don't have an idea, I'll start over. If I go weeks without thinking of the solution, I'll still do that.

I feel like my only choices are to drop the story completely, give up on it, or read until I know how to fix it. What to cut, What to add, How to change the past to fix the dead spot.

I've read 200 pages four times through before figuring out how to fix it and finish the story. Sometimes it is a realization about a character (who they should be, what they could've done). Sometimes it is a realization about where I screwed the plot.

Stephen King, writing The Stand (823 pages) had a similar problem for weeks on end, and eventually scrapped a few hundred pages to start over at the particular point where he finally realized he'd taken a wrong turn.

You've got a story. If you are stuck, you got yourself there, with an earlier mistake. Keep reading until you find it, and then fix it. Question every plot development, twist or turning point decision you made. Question whether you've made your characters too soft, or hard, or conveniently too smart or too clueless.

You have the ending in mind. Try a reverse-writing: What is the final scene before that ending? The final discovery, the final piece of the puzzle that leads to that. If it is a battle, what happens right before the battle? Who is standing there? Who makes the final decision to risk their lives?

Then back up another scene. How did they get to THAT point? Eventually, you will find the seam between what you have already written, and what needs to come next. Then you can revise what you have already written to make that flow seamless.

There is something you can fix to make the story flow naturally into the ending. If you are going to be a discovery writer (and I am incapable of writing any other way) you have to get used to the fact that you can take a wrong turn, and are probably going to have to scrap a chapter or two now and then. Or more, like Stephen King, who scrapped about 25% of a book in progress, but finished it. I believe The Stand is his all-time bestseller.

  • Mark Twain had the same problem finishing Pudd'Nhead Wilson. He eventually killed a bunch of characters and redrew the story. He said at one point while rewriting it, he had a chapter that started "Rowena went out in the backyard after supper to see the fireworks and fell down the well and got drowned." And killed (and later resurrected) a bunch of other characters in the same way just to clear the story while he was reworking it.
    – user27115
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 1:43
  • Yea, you described the whole process right. It's tiresome, but there are moments when you can't just let go of a story.
    – Liquid
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 8:10
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    @Liquid For me, I agree with Stephen King, basically I have to engage my characters (at some point in the story) every single day, or they stop feeling like "real people", and my writing will become wooden, and suffer. The personalities of my characters do come through on the page, but that is the tip of the iceberg, their real personality and emotions are all inside my head. I am immersed in writing them, their responses to situations are automatic. If they fade to "people I once knew", I won't be able to finish their story right. I at least read them every day, barring illness etc.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 13:03

In my experience hibernation doesn't help, unless you are so into a story that you're suffering from burnout. Nine times out of ten, if I leave a story unfinished, it will remain that way.

In your case, hibernating makes even less sense since you already know what you want to write in the final chapters. So, what keeps you from writing those chapters?

"Inspiration" is partly a truth, partly a myth. We all experience the need to write, the feeling of being lost in the flow of words coming out from our fingertips effortlessy. It's a pretty nice feeling indeed.

But you don't have to be inspired all the time to write. Nobody is. I'm willing to bet that the more you're willing to wait for the fleeting feeling of inspiration, the more you'll fall into periods of inactive pessimism. If you keep writing without relying on ispiration alone, you'll get more chances for inspiration to appear.

  • 2
    +1 for 'If you keep writing without relying on inspiration alone, you'll get more chances for inspiration to appear.' Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 10:06
  • In my opinion, a well-drafted plan and the commitment to stick to that plan is what makes great writing. Inspiration can help give you ideas for your plan, but inspiration can't be everything.
    – Toby Mak
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 11:30
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    @TobyMak Yes, but the definition of "plan" may vary from writer to writer. Especially for discovery writers, planning might come difficult. It might be better to talk about writing habits
    – Liquid
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 12:14

I skip to the next event.

You are saying that you are only struggling coming up with the finale but you have a basic outline and at least a general idea as to how to end it, right? So, two options here - you either write something you want to write but doesn't necessarily come next, fill the blanks later, or you work with what you know about the story. In other words, even if you are so blank on the last two chapters that you don't have a certain event you want to write, you know at least one thing that's going to happen.

So, stop searching for what's going to happen immediately next, and think about what you know or want to make happen eventually. Then write it. Then fill the part between that and where you left off.

Writing usually doesn't come as chronologically as it reads, and as a discovery writer, you must know this, too. So you can fight the block by going around it - no reader knows or cares about how you wrote second to last part after the last part.

Edit: I left out my actual point - you know how it's gonna end, so if you actually write that part, you'll notice that the part you were stuck on gets shaped by the events of future. That's the beauty of writing, most of the time, future shapes the past.

  • 1
    That's a good approach. Write around both ends of the block, pause and see how they'd connect. Just don't get too attached to it. Let it free to be discarded and changed. Recently I had no idea how to solve a kidnapping arc and my first draft of the rescue had a happy ending. It got too soppy and I decided to make the hostages dead when the heroes reached them. There was nothing MCs could do to avoid it, they were long dead. The power of the tragedy gave me the way to write the middle to join both parts. Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 15:28

Writers' block can be a symptom of a deeper underlying issue. Maybe you haven't written these last two chapters because your planned ending is wrong for your book. The end of the book seems to be the most dangerous time for discovery writers. Many of my favorite authors have a tendency to write books carried along by a tremendous surge of creative energy that seems to go completely kaput at the end. Sometimes it's seemingly because they're holding onto an original conception that no longer matches what the book has become. If I were you, I would ask these questions:

  • Do you need those final chapters? Personally I'm a big fan of ambiguous and/or abrupt endings. I've encountered many a book or movie I wish had ended two chapters or twenty minutes earlier.
  • Are you trying too hard to wrap everything up? The endings to Murakami's books almost never make literal sense, but the better ones have a emotional and psychological resonance that more than makes up for it. And Roger Zelazny ended every book in his long-running Amber series on a cliffhanger, including the last one.
  • Does the book want to go somewhere else? If you're a discovery writer at heart, maybe your story is resisting even your minimal outlining. Just because you've been writing towards a goal doesn't mean you're wedded to it. Maybe the princess doesn't marry the prince at the end.

In general, satisfying endings have these qualities: They are emotionally satisfying, whether or not they make literal sense. They fulfill any "contracts" and implicit promises made by the author (but don't feel you have to pay off any promises you haven't actually made!). And they have some sort of symmetry with the beginning of the book. If you've got those covered, don't worry about anything else.

  • Thank you very much for the answer that helps a lot. About the first point you mentioned, do I need the final chapters, actually I scraped one chapter, but then I am very much scared of the word count of my book. A somewhat less word count can hamper my chances to get published, isn't it? Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 11:10
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    What's your word count? If you're at or below 50K then yes, it's harder to get published. But there are other ways to increase word count than appending extra chapters at the end --maybe you need a subplot, or your descriptions are thin. See also: writing.stackexchange.com/questions/30582/… Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 13:18
  • Thank you very much for your answer. It tells me I have a lot of work to do. Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 13:33
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    If it's much much shorter than 50K, then try to publish it as a short story instead --that can be easier than getting a novel published anyway, especially if you're doing genre fiction (mystery, science fiction, etc) Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 13:40

You have finished most of your novella, but need two more chapters

If you are struggling when you are about to end the book, you should give yourself a pat on the back, and also give yourself more time to figure it out. Personally taking breaks and doing activities do help me when I am determined to continue my writing process, there is no rush.

Read, watch programs on Netflix, or write and go for it. Sometimes it helps you if you just write, this will motivate you.

Sometimes the ideas find you, rather the other way round. Good luck.


I tend to be a spurt writer, I'll get nothing on the page for months and then a few thousand words in a couple of hours. When I'm stuck on a piece I know the thrust of I try writing backwards, going from where I want to end back to the material already on the page.

You know where you want to end, you have a story that gets you most of the way there and a small amount of missing material. You need to work out what events, if any, (sometimes the way you thought the story would end doesn't actually work) get you from the end of what you have already written to the end of the tale you foresee. This is often easier if you start at the end and ask "where do the characters have to be (physically, mentally, emotionally) for this to happen?" repeatedly looking at how to get them there from where they are to where you need them step by step. Once you know the steps to take the characters on their journey you can fill in the events that have the necessary effects.

If all else fails go back to your inspiration, watch/listen/read/play the material that got you started on the story in the first place over again. You're looking for fresh inspiration but also for how that material handled the final transition that is causing you trouble.

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