Friday, September 20, 2013

The End

Oh yes, the ending of a manuscript, and the hardest part to get right! Toni and I met with our critique partners last night and I was quickly taken back to the memory of the end of Fable last year.

Now, we are back to rewriting it so the story will have it's climactic peak, as it were. Yes, this can be frustrating, but I'm reminded of how invaluable our critique partners are and usually their advice is worth listening to. 

When we worked on the end of Fable, they came up with some great ideas that we implemented and they paid off. So again, we are taking their words of encouragement and changing the ending. 

Back to square one. Not completely, just the last two chapters. So I'm faced with the book being finished a little later than anticipated, but it will be well worth it in the end, no pun intended. So, that is what I will be doing today, rewriting.

Those of you who write books know how hard the beginning and the end are. It's tough in the beginning because you want the reader to keep turning the page and once you're on the "right" roll, the manuscript seems to come to life. That is, until you get to the other tough part, the ending. 

So, bear with us on this, we will get the pacing and excitement where it needs to be so when you read "The End", you will be disappointed that it's over. That's the idea anyway. 

So, take heart all you writers out there, you will figure out the best way to capture that ending and keep your readers coming back for more. It's just a matter of trial and error, and lots of patience. And, not to mention, listening to some good advice!

Have any of you run into this issue? What helped you to decide what the ending should be? I'm sure there are those who wished they wrote certain endings of their books different after publishing. Did you go back in and change it, or just lived with it?

Well, Thank God it's Friday and the weekend's ahead of us. It gives me some extra time to get it right!

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Love, Lisa



  1. Hi Lisa, Glad you were able to come up with an ending. I'm still trying to do the same with my novella. It'll come to me, sooner or later. How's your sis doing? I pray that all is well. Blessings.

  2. As you can see, the ending is still a work in progress, but we're getting there! Thanks for posting and I miss talking with you! I hope all is well!

  3. In the beginning, the setting and the main characters must be relayed to the reader in short measures (particularly for setting, lest you info-dump).

    One of the easiest ways to keep the pace is through the literary tool known as in media res (Latin for "in the middle of things"). Some people take this to too far an extreme, but the basic idea is that you start your book when the action starts. Rather than have a chapter or three building up to some inciting incident, you start with the inciting incident.

    Taken another way, if you already have a book, you can walk through the first few chapters. If the first two chapters are slow but it really takes off in the third chapter, toss the first two.

    But what, you might ask, about all of the vital setting given in the first two chapters? Weave it into the story. The easiest way to avoid info-dumps is to provide a piece of setting information only when it is necessary to understand the world. If it is not necessary to understand the story, it can usually be safely left out. This may leave things too sparse for the author's taste, of course, in which case this advice can be safely disregarded.

    In media res is used in many thrillers and urban fantasy books. But the converse is also true. There are several books in fast-paced genres that begin with a build-up to the inciting incident. I myself typically begin a chapter or three before things really kick off, but to curb the lack of action, I try to provide intrigue.

    Throughout the middle, things usually proceed smoothly. Most of the story world has been established by this point, so it's all character interaction (with the exception of a few things, most plot events can be explained by one or more characters' actions) driving things forward.

    Endings become troublesome when story threads become too twisted together or dangle loosely a good ways beyond the desired ending.

    I've run into the problematic ending more than once. Three or four times with one story that is still unfinished. Things become knotted up too much from lack of planning or taking things to too many extremes.

    I like my stories to be organic, so I usually go with my gut, even if that makes me deviate from my original conception of a story. And for the most part, that usually turns out quite well. It's when I continue to try for a particular ending that things get dicey, because I keep trying to force something of an organic nature to fit into a synthetic (i.e., preconceived) idea. Unless all of my decisions up to that point have fit with the end result can I reach the original ending.

    Other times, I will continue writing a chapter or two after the story has ended, or pick a place to end that's a chapter or two early. I find that if I've gone too far, those chapters are really hard to write and if the ending is too easy to write, I haven't gone far enough.

    There's also a point that often stumps writers roughly one-third through the book. When you hit that block (doubts about x, y, or z, general feelings that the story isn't as good as it could be, general self-doubt, etc.), you can gauge, rather accurately, how long the book is going to be. Multiply what you have by 3 and you have the rough length of the finished product.

    1. Thanks for this post Ryan. In fact my next class will be about the sagging middle. I agree with the adding chapters at the end and see where the cut off should be, I'm going to try that!

    2. I meant that the writing a chapter or two past or before the ending was unintentional. I find that if the ending is really easy, I haven't written the true ending yet, and if it's really hard, the story was over just before it got really hard. I hope that clarifies my meaning. Not that it really matters. What works on one story doesn't necessarily work on another.

      Many people say that The Lord of the Rings films have several endings that people must sit through to the get to the end of the film. I can agree. For me, the film ends as the eagles fly away. That's what gives me the best feeling. The other endings often cited are the reunion in Rivendell, Frodo finishing the book, and the farewell and sailing off into the West. But of course, there's another ending after that, which is Sam returning home to his family (if I recall the ending as well as I think I do and in the right order). One could thus say that The Lord of the Rings has 5 endings.

      For some, Harry Potter ends after the final battle, without the 19 years later epilogue (I was slightly aghast when I heard some people complaining about the epilogue being kept in the film). Rowling wrote that epilogue years before the final book, of course, and I image she wrote it to bring the story full circle. Was it necessary for closure? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the person.

      I suppose one could write a book with several endings in mind and then at the last minute choose which one. But in my experience, going beyond the proper ending can be dull. But of course, that depends upon the reader experiencing the book, which makes all of this talk of questionable utility. It is impossible to please all people. If you have two moments of closure at the ending, you might want to keep both of them.

      What works on one reader may not work on the others. Many master storytellers will say that when you become a master of the craft, you can control things to the extent that readers read the story the author wants them to (which is to say they all have the same experience). Personally, I think that's a load of bollocks. While I don't deny that master storytellers are well-accomplished in their craft and can conceive of and write stories that we apprentices and journeymen can only dream of, I still firmly believe that a reader's imagination overrules anything an author might wish to convey. While people may imagine things similar to others (until the films, my mother and I both pictured Draco Malfoy as having black hair, for example), they are all unique and it is unlikely that each person will interpret something 100% the same.

      But now I have run out of philosophical steam. Back to coding.

    3. Hmmm...will I ever become a master?! Maybe someday, but first I need to figure out the choreography of this ending lol!