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Monday, May 21, 2012

The Right Place to Start and End

If you've spent any amount of time on writing blogs, you've heard how important it is to START in the right place in your story. Volumes of books and blogs have been written on the subject. Finding that place can drive you bonkers. I know I rewrote the beginning of Sendek: The Magic Wakes at least 100 times.

In the process I moved around scenes, cut entire scenes, wrote new scenes--all in the hopes of finally crafting a first chapter that would make the reader fall in love with my MC and her plight.

Now that I have an editor helping me polish this book, I've come to realize another important point. Where you end, or how quickly you end after the big climax is also important. I did rework the ending a couple of times. Maybe three? Yeah, not nearly as many times as the beginning.

I knew the ending was taking too long, but I had these loose ends to tie up. And I needed to plant the seeds for the next book in the series. Before signing with WiDo, I cut almost 4000 words from the end. If you're not cringing you should be (that's about 14 pages). I finally decided to cut the last chapter in its entirety and it is now one of the first two chapters of Orek: The Search for Knowledge.

Even with that much streamlining I have too many pages after my conflict is resolved. In the words of my wonderful editor, "After ___(spoilers)___, I'm no longer invested."


But completely true.

Here's my questions for you:

1. What makes an ending satisfying for you?
2. Do you have a different criteria for the ending of a first book in a series? (what and why?)

Over the next few days I want to take a look at endings that WORKED. Feel free to send me your favorites at unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com.


Huntress said...

If the MC violates all his or her beliefs at the end, I feel abused.

After bonding with this character, giving her my time and emotions, if her personality suddenly changes into something unrecognizable, I go postal.

As far as cliff hangers, I love them but then I love series. The more in the series the better. I exclude Jordan's Wheel of Time though.

Tyrean Martinson said...

If the MC suddenly dies off just one chapter before the end to make way for the next character who will take over for book 2, I have the urge to throw the book across the room, especially if the MC is the only POV character, and you get an abrupt switch to a different POV for the last chapter.

Tyrean Martinson said...

oops -sorry, answered what drives me crazy in endings and not what works . . .umm what works for me - wrapping up the main plot points, and leaving me with a horizon of new beginnings.

Angela Brown said...

When I know I'm dealing with a series, I've very forgiving of cliff hanger endings. Actually, for a series, that's to be expected. However, I feel somewhat cheated if the issue for the particular novel isn't addressed. As an example, I appreciated the ending of Hunger Games because the issue for the novel was addressed. Katniss took Prim's place. She survived the physical Hunger Games itself and managed to slap the establishment in the face at the same time. The End. But if that novel had ended with Katniss and Peeta looking at each other and then that was it, well, I would have had serious issues with that story. SERIOUS issues.

Jemi Fraser said...

As much as I love The Hobbit and LotR, the endings of both books drive me crazy - they drag on FAR too long and really don't add to the books. I prefer a pretty quick wrap up. Which is probably why I've rewritten my ending so many times!!

mshatch said...

The Night Circus had a perfect ending. I won't say what, just that I was happy with it, even if it wasn't THE happy ending.

I loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle but the ending was not very satisfying. Of course, knowing that it was based on Hamlet, I should known, lol.