I don’t pretend to be an expert writer. Okay, maybe sometimes I pretend, but I do realize that blog posts, Facebook statuses, and 1.75 novels does not an expert make. But, in my (not so) vast experience, I decided that figuring out the perfect ending is almost the most difficult part of writing. Which is why I tend to stall out right before those last climactic pages.
The perfect ending is essential to making writing really work. This is where you tie everything up in a big bow, give explanations for any foreshadowing you gleefully injected into earlier chapters, and try to really give your story meaning. If you write an entire crime novel and there is little to no explanation, no reasoning, too many unanswered questions…the reader will close the book feeling unsatisfied and kind of icky. (I think “kind of icky” is actually the technical term.) I don’t want people feeling icky about my books. A bad ending can overshadow even a fabulous first 3/4. There are books I have read that I wished I had closed before I reached that last crucial point, because it would have remained more pleasant in my mind.
That’s a lot of pressure.
I am at that point once again in my second novel. Trying to pull the pieces together in a way that makes sense…it’s insane. Now, perhaps if I were a *better* writer, I would have been taking notes and making sure to keep track of what I needed to answer. But…I’m not that kind of writer. I’m a word vomiter. So hopefully if there are issues, I can clear them up in revisions, with help from a few trusted beta readers.
Still, I have been agonizing over how to end this thing. How to close things up in a way that makes sense, that is “realistic.” If things are too pretty, it can throw a reader out of the story too. “You mean…they were involved in a major firefight, half of the bad guys died, and none of the main characters were even injured? What are they, superheroes?” (To those who write about superheroes, my apologies, that’s totally realistic.) How “nice” do I make my ending? How many casualties? How angry will readers get if this happens, and have I hooked them enough to keep them reading if I make it to a sequel?
Thankfully, I have a great friend reading and giving me a chance to bounce ideas off of her…although I believe she may be even more emotionally invested in my characters than I am at times, which might taint her opinion just a bit 😉
I have also been dealing with that “I suck-itis” lately. Keeping up with agents and other blog posts and articles about writing is a good idea, but, as I’ve mentioned, it can also contribute to that hopeless feeling that I’ll be stuck in the slush pile trenches forever. Lately I have been dealing with the fact that my YA novel is already much longer than it is *supposed* to be, but I still have story to tell, and don’t want to sacrifice it yet. I know the cutting will come, but I need to tell the story first.
So, hopefully I will finish this week. I said that two weeks ago. One of these weeks it’s bound to happen. I am so close. I just need a bigger bow…
In the meantime, watch this video of a recently signed author talking about her journey to finding an agent. She compares querying to dating, and it’s really pretty entertaining. It can happen!