Novel Endings

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I finally got through what felt like the seventy fifth hundred draft of my novel and after almost two years of blood, sweat, and tears you’d think I’d be shouting hallelujah, prematurely querying all agents with at least one good eye, or worse, running around the beaches of Waikiki (manuscript in hand), terrorizing tourists by yelling, “It’s done! Kiss me, you fool!”

But I didn’t do any of those things. Instead, I panicked. About what, Quanie? Well, I’m glad you asked.

About the ending. I was fine with it before I went to paradise. But while I was there I started nit picking; no, the tone isn’t right. It needs more terror. That’s right. I’ll end it with a gasp. And you should totally wax poetic. Okay. I’ll do that too. So I’ll terrifyingly wax poetic and while I’m at it, I’ll add in a couple of sparrows. That’s what it needs. More sparrows. And as a matter of fact, I don’t like my main character’s arc. It’s not arcy enough. In fact she needs to have a huge epiphany about appearance vs. reality and she should also have….? A soliloquy! Okay. I’ll do that too.

Ideas simmered until finally, I sat down one morning and rewrote the ending. I went back to it a week later and realized that if I’m fortunate enough to get any readers, when they got to that ending they would probably burn the book (or find me in the streets and hurl it at my head). The “new and improved” ending was abrupt, fell short, and did not give any sense of what happened after “the thing that changed life as all the characters knew it” occurred. You mean it didn’t have a denouement? Precisely.

A well respected writer once said to me that the first draft has “the most meat.” She says she finds that the more writers mess with a piece, by the time they get to the end it’s all bones, so to speak. So I went back to my original ending and took a good look at it. Tone wise it fit the rest of the piece and gave an indication of how things work out for the characters after the climax. It made the novel feel…complete (as it should, right?).

So what did you do? I left it alone. But what about the sparrows? Don’t ask.

Now I’m in the editing stage and will be asking for readers, so watch out. You may find me on your doorstep soon, manuscript in hand….

 


A song for Friday

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I’m here work-in on my novel
And I’m mak-in lotsa progress
So I’m gonna wave my hands up in the air! (Whoop-whoop!)

Got my work in progress smoke-in
So I’m sit-in round here hope-in
That this time my project really goes somewhere! (Whoop-whoop!)

Okay, so bad song aside, I am really making some progress this week! I think it’s all of the support that I got from everyone (big up to IWSG and all of my homes from She Writes!)

This edit is almost done and (fingers and toes crossed!) I’ll have a not cringe worthy draft! Yay!

Also, please hop over to my homie, blogger and author extraordinaire, Toi Thomas and check out the interview she did with little ole me.

Side note: I’m getting married next week (in Hawaii!) so posts may be a bit scarce until I return.

Until next time….

Happy Friday! (Whoop!)


#IWSG: Because my Mother Said So

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month and I’m participating in Alex J Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group day! You can find a list of other participants here.

 

I think there comes a point in every writer’s life when we have to ask ourselves if we’re really persistent or completely delusional. (I touched on this in my post on Monday; how I wonder if I’m like one of those awful contestants on American Idol; the really bad singers who are convinced that they are going to make it to Hollywood and then go on from there to win the whole competition, even though their singing could get them fined for disturbing the peace). Sometimes I wonder if I’m one of those people. I think of how, despite all of the rejection I’ve received as I writer, I keep on believing in myself. I wonder; am I persistent or delusional? It doesn’t help when your family doesn’t understand how the publishing business works.

My mom, for instance, has been asking me for the last five years, “Have you sold your story?” (I keep wondering which story she’s referring to, and if she thinks I’ve been sitting around moping with the same manuscript since 2007.)
“I haven’t.”
“Well, I was just telling Brenda the other day I can’t understand why someone hasn’t picked you up yet!” (My mom thinks the publishing industry is like the NBA draft.)
I said, “Why did you tell her that?”
“Because you can’t sell your story!”
“Mama, it’s not that simple.”
“As good as you are I know someone’s gonna pick you up!” (I don’t know how she knows I’m good since she hasn’t read anything I’ve written since third grade. The story was called “Sheeba the Cat” and was so awful I don’t blame her for running every time I show up on her doorstep with a recently completed manuscript.)

The truth is that even if I took the time to tell my mother:
1. My previous projects were okay but probably not so great.
2. Writers get better with age.
3. What’s good or bad in writing is completely subjective so agents and publishers probably aren’t the vapid blood suckers we writers think they are.
4. Self publishing is a viable option but is something I need to fully understand before jumping into it head first.
5. Just because she thinks I’m good doesn’t make it so.
6. Sometimes, these things just take time.

Even if I took the time to explain all of this to her, I’m sure she would say, “Well, I still don’t understand why someone hasn’t picked you up.” And I would end up pulling my hair out and vowing to never talk to her about my writing career again.

It also doesn’t help that whenever I tell someone that I went to school for creative writing they look as if I just told them I’m getting a leg amputated in two weeks. Their faces say, “Oh, no. You poor dear. I’ll pray for you.” And then I wonder if I should have studied something more practical, like acting.

The only consolation I have is that yes, I am getting better. But I still wonder: will it ever happen? Unlike an NBA career, there is no cut off point for a writer. We can sit and wish and say, “Maybe the next project will be the one” until we’re ninety. Although that thought scares the crap out of me, there is still a glimmer of hope that yes, this project, will be the one. And then I tell myself that I am good, if only because my mother says so, and then I get up and push through the doubt and write. No matter how frequently I am plagued by “but what if this project doesn’t (fill in the blank)” I know that I have to forge ahead, believing, like those American Idol contestants, that no matter what anybody else says, I’m gonna win this thing.