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….


2 thoughts on “Novel Endings

  1. I’ve changed my beginning probably eighty times, but I haven’t really touched my ending…interesting, now that I mention it. I’ve rewritten it, but held onto the major gist and happenings of the end. I like that quote about the first draft having “meat.” Revision is so crucial, but sometimes it’s like on a test…go with your first answer!
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