As I write this post, I am in the process of trying to finish up a draft of a book. There have been some potholes and speedbumps in the process involving health and life issues, but it’s almost done and I’m feeling relatively good about it (relatively because usually at the end of a book I think it’s all a big steamy pile of . . . well, you get the idea).
So anyhow, I wanted to talk a little about the end process. Which is always the same it seems, even though I try to circumvent it. I know how the book will end. Which is to say, I know what major events must happen to finish things out. But I don’t necessarily know how I’m going to get those done. Always I think the ending will come sooner than it does. Always I get to the 100K mark and find that instead of one or two more chapters, I have more like five or six to write. Part of that is because getting to the very very end is a longer process than I have planned for, even though I know how it works for me. (File it under reality check). Part of it is because I want to offer character resolution along with plot resolution, and it always seem to take more time for that to feel satisfying than what I’ve allotted.
For the last five books, I’ve written an outline to try to get me to the end in a way that seems logical and complete. I do this so I feel like I’m in control in the beginning and can allow myself to just write. Otherwise I start feeling like the proverbial deer in the headlights. And as always, I reached a certain point in the book and realized that while yes, I was still going to the same ending spot, I wasn’t getting there by that road. Too many things had changed, too many characters had gotten their own ideas about what they wanted to be doing, and that plot road was full of plotholes and collapsed bridges. So toss it out the window and now pants it. Happens every time, yet still I’m vaguely surprised.
So where am I now? I’m chasing the ending and it’s getting further away. And I don’t have a map to get me the last few miles. So I’m feeling my way. Thank goodness I know this is part of my process. Because otherwise I’d be tearing my hair out.
So I’m wondering, you other novelists out there published or not, what happens when you get near the end? Do you already know what needs to happen? Or are you still figuring things out?
Causes Diana Francis Supports
Primary Children's Hospital, Salt Lake City, UT:...