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Nancy J Cohen

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Blogs by Nancy J Cohen

Finishing Your Book
8/24/2010 10:31:34 AM

As you near the end of your book, resist the urge to rush to the finish.
FINISHING YOUR BOOK
When you’re nearing the end of your book, do you tend to race ahead? I have 25 pages to go in my WIP before reaching my required word count, and I’m beginning to think I might go over. I still have several scenes to go to reach a satisfactory conclusion. While I’m tempted to rush through to the finish line, this is actually when I need to slow down to bring all my plot threads together. So here is my advice for what you should do when approaching The End.

Take Your Time
You’re sick of working on this story. You just want to finish. You’ll layer in more details later.
STOP. You need to slow down and work your way through each scene as the story logically unfolds. It may be tedious and make you grind your teeth, but remember why you’re writing in the first place. You love the process. So enjoy the storytelling and live with your characters a while longer until their tale is done.

Tie Up All The Loose Ends
If you juggle several plot threads in a complex storyline like I do, you’ve either lost track of them or you keep detailed spreadsheets and notes to guide you down the track. Make sure you have covered all your footprints. Often I may have to take care of this on my second read-through. On the first revision, I’ll write down questions that spring to mind about the story from the reader’s viewpoint. Or I’ll do a plotting board as the story progresses, and these questions will be in a different colored ink from the main plot. You’ll want to resolve these questions by the story’s end. There’s nothing more frustrating as a reader or tv viewer than to be left hanging. You know how this feels. Don’t do it to your readers. Be sure you have answered all the story questions for an emotionally satisfying end.

Resolve The Plot Before The Romantic or Emotional Resolution
If you’ve done your job right, your main character will have changed or come to a realization about herself by the end of the book. The emotional resonance of this revelation should follow the climactic sequence with the villain, if you have one. Or the external plot, if there’s no definitive bad guy. Perhaps the internal revelation prompted the action that led your heroine to the final conflict. Then have her reflect on it, change her direction in life, make a decision, or alter an important relationship with another character. Maybe it means accepting herself or shedding her guilt.

Each book in a series should affect the personal relationships in your character’s life. Nothing is static. People change based on their experiences. So should your characters, and it’s much more emotionally gratifying to your readers when this final declaration comes at the end.

In my Bad Hair Day mysteries, my hairdresser sleuth Marla Shore decides to date the handsome detective at the end of book one. By the end of book nine, they’ve set a wedding date. Yes, it’s taken them that long to get together because they’ve had a lot of issues to resolve. Each volume in the series offers a step forward in their relationship even though they might falter along the way. So, too, in Silver Serenade, my recent sci fi romance, the heroine agrees to marry the hero at the end and also realizes she might make a better intelligence officer than an assassin. These decisions come after she’s tested her skills and defeated the bad guy. It wouldn’t have the same resonance before then because we’re still caught up in the tension of executing the external plot. So after the adventure comes to a close, have your protagonist let us know how this has experience has changed her.

As a reader, what do you find most satisfactory or unsatisfactory about endings?


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More Blogs by Nancy J Cohen
• Contests for Publishing Authors - Sunday, December 23, 2012
• Common Writing Mistakes - Thursday, September 20, 2012
• Tips for Using Facebook - Thursday, August 16, 2012
• Krazy with Kindle - Saturday, November 20, 2010
•  Finishing Your Book - Tuesday, August 24, 2010  

• BOOK TRAILER - Saturday, December 05, 2009
• THE WRITING BIZ - Sunday, May 24, 2009
• HAIR MATTERS - Sunday, February 15, 2009
• ESCAPE - Tuesday, February 03, 2009
• Living in the Void - Sunday, August 17, 2008
• SETTING GOALS - Friday, May 30, 2008
• PROPS FOR WRITERS - Monday, January 21, 2008
• TRIP TO FORT MYERS - Wednesday, January 16, 2008
• RESEARCH - Saturday, October 13, 2007


Christina's Saga: From Norway to Dakota Territory by Wayne Anderson

A heartwarming story based on the life of Christina Gunnerson. After adventures mixed with hardships during her early years in Norway, she suddenly lost her father and older broth..  
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