I’m not quite there yet – ask me again next week – but I’m close enough that endings are very much on my mind right now. I’m not the only one: check out this recent post by 8LW favorite Chuck Wendig, entitled ‘Why It’s Important To Finish Your Shit.’
As always, Chuck is spot on, but this time he’s preaching to the converted. I’ve had my head down, refused some really tempting social invitations, haven’t read a single new book in ages, because I really, really want to Finish My Shit. I want to enter the RWA 2015 Golden Heart contest for unpublished romance writers, which opens for entries in a couple of days’ time and closes on 12 January, though TBH that’s just an extra tasty carrot to make me push towards the finish line. More than anything I don’t want to spend another year tweaking this story (well, not unless an agent or a publisher asks me to 😉 ).
My One Goal To Rule Them All for this year was to Finish The Damn Book. I’m pretty sure I’m going to make it, but I still have a couple of important wrinkles to iron out if this story is to end the way I want it to. My problem is not whether to finish, but how to finish. I’m not going for anything fancy. All I want for my birthday (two weeks today) is a final handful of scenes with:
🙂 Faster Pacing;
🙂 Escalating Tension;
🙂 All sub-plots convincingly resolved before the Big Story Question (as raised in the opening scene) is answered;
🙂 The Big Story Question answered in a convincing and emotionally satisfying way;
🙂 Nothing else.
I’ve been thinking about my favorite books by my favorite authors. Some of them wrap their stories up spectacularly well, others not so much. As a reader, my pet peeves about endings are:
😦 Wrapping up the main plot and then tidying up loose ends afterwards. By then, who cares?
😦 Epilogues, one year later scenes, wedding scenes, baby scenes. Frex, I love everything about SEP’s Ain’t She Sweet except the surprise pregnancy announcement at the very end.
😦 Sequel bait. Introducing a new character, scene, interaction that’s not there to serve the current story but to line up the next one, just when everything’s getting really juicy. Grrr. I’d much rather have the first chapter from the next story included at the back of the book.
I like to read a little something before I go to bed every night, and lately I’ve been spoiling myself with Georgette Heyer. First, because I know the books so well, I can dip in and out and enjoy them without dragging my head out of my own story. Second, because they’re witty and light, and I can enjoy them even when my emotional reserves are drained. And third, because damn, that woman is a genius at finishing a story. She takes time at the beginning to introduce characters and set up family dynamics in a way that feels very leisurely to the modern reader, but the spectacular way she pulls all the threads together at the end makes me gasp with admiration. And then boom! the book is done. Brilliant. At the moment I’m re-reading Unknown Ajax. I’ve finished Cotillion and next will be The Grand Sophy.
So…suggestions, please. I’m looking for inspiration. Books (especially romances) that end with a bang, not a whimper. Authors that tie up all the loose ends for the reader in one big, sparkling, spectacular bow. Thank you!