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 youíre 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 Iím beginning to think I might go over. I still have several scenes to go to reach a satisfactory conclusion. While Iím 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
Youíre sick of working on this story. You just want to finish. Youíll 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 youíre 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, youíve 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, Iíll write down questions that spring to mind about the story from the readerís viewpoint. Or Iíll do a plotting board as the story progresses, and these questions will be in a different colored ink from the main plot. Youíll want to resolve these questions by the storyís end. Thereís nothing more frustrating as a reader or tv viewer than to be left hanging. You know how this feels. Donít 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 youíve 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 thereís 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 characterís life. Nothing is static. People change based on their experiences. So should your characters, and itís 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, theyíve set a wedding date. Yes, itís taken them that long to get together because theyíve 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 sheís tested her skills and defeated the bad guy. It wouldnít have the same resonance before then because weíre 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