Write the Ending

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Another weasel post, but it’s for a good reason, really. I’m trying to complete the latest novel this weekend. That’s priority #1, so other writing has to be shifted to the back burners. When you get the wind at your back you’re a fool to tend lesser duties.

I peck at a book until it comes together, then it becomes everything I do. Those are the times when I wonder, “Why do I do anything but write all day?” They’re the times you need to remember most of the time, when the writing either isn’t happening or you’re in a bad mood.

Now the chapters are all laid out. I can look down from above ala God, and see what’s working and what isn’t. After the plot has been set for a long time–too long for me to mention without embarrassing myself for being lazy and/or blocked–I’m only seeing what I’ve got now, when I’ve written the ending. This is why most writing advice that isn’t a variation of “Sit down and write it” is crap. Planning, outlining, all the stuff that ISN’T getting into the story with your hero–it’s either just keeping you busy until you get serious or a way to lessen the fear or anxiety that you really should just deal with. No one said it’d be fun all the time, or even most of the time.

What it IS is compelling. It’s the thing you’re supposed to do. It’s work. Work isn’t a bad thing. When things are difficult at your job, you don’t get to just stop doing it until you feel nice. You plow through it until closing time, or until your shift is over.

When you’re this close to finishing, ninety percent of writing advice is revealed as bullshit.

If I could tell you ONE thing about writing a novel it would be this: Keep going until you have a complete draft, including the ending. Don’t just end with “And then the shootout happens, the bad guy dies, the hero gets the girl,” because that’s all still in your head, where it works perfectly because you’ve skipped so much. GET IN THERE. Write it. Is it boring, but you think it’s necessary? Then do something else that will bring the story to a SATISFYING ending.

Write the ending. Finish.

Only then will you see what you’ve got, and what you have to change to either make the ending work as well as it can (by preparation, adding details that need to be there for your hero to have that hidden weapon, or for the villain to know where the hero must walk for the landmine to kill him, or by strengthening the theme so it pays off with this particular ending) OR to set up the new, better ending you thought of now that you’ve seen that this one sucks.

Write the ending. Finish.

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2 comments

    • If I can do it, anyone can. The trick is do not wait until you’re ‘good enough,’ because you should always be improving.

      Just start. Today. Now. And keep going, because wanting to improve will push you to better work.

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