Thursday, May 3, 2012

Endings: show's over, go home

I wrote this post early in April, during the A to Z Challenge, so it's a little out of date... 

Just to top off Part III, the ending was a problem too. That's fitting, seeing as how a bunch of other things went wrong in this draft:
  1. Plotter FAIL! shortly before the climax
  2. The Hot Mess in the first third (and according to my betas it's still problematic)
  3. Forgot an important step in an important scene
  4. ...and then I did one of my edge-of-the-cliff endings
I'll have to label this a habit of mine: I build up to a big climax, which may take a while to convulse its way out, and then bang! Done! Drop the curtain!

A little wrapping up after the climax is appreciated by most readers, I'm given to understand... not that I should carry on for thousands of words, but something. Even when there's a whole Part IV to come.

Things I ought to do after the climax:
  • Clean up the mess: this was kinda literal, in Part III. There were people to patch up and a half-destroyed courtyard to try to smooth out.
  • Address the fallout: in the middle of the climax, I lobbed a bombshell related to a long-term plot development. Even though the full explanation will wait, it had to be at least partly addressed. Otherwise, the reader will be saying what the heck was that all about?
  • Will things be OK? Even a little bit? Amusingly, I just finished reading GRRM's Dance with Dragons where nothing is ever going to be okay and any hints it might be are just the author playing you along so he can twist the knife in your heart. My Part III is 65k and probably half of that is unmitigated combat, so if the reader's half as burned out as I was, we need some hint that things are getting better.
I wrote an epilogue, too. It was a bridge scene that would've been an odd place to start Part IV, but it had several  reasons to be fit in someplace.

What do you find you need to remind yourself to do?


Elizabeth Twist said...

Oh my God. So many of my stories suffer from BANG! YOU'RE DEAD! climaxes. I mean, hey, reader, I told you what happened now MOVE ON.

Often I think I'm either too tired to figure out the details of what should happen, or it's already happened in my mind, so should I really have to explain it?

I guess it's important to take your time in these matters, though, huh?

Elizabeth Twist: Writer, Plague Enthusiast

L. Blankenship said...

There's definitely an element of mental exhaustion and not wanting to deal with what happened next.

But you need that cool-down period after a marathon. Though some stories need more than others, of course.

Elizabeth Twist said...

It's funny. As a reader, I love that cool-down period. It is often the part of the story that I most look forward to, and certainly as a kid the one I most enjoyed. I distinctly remember wanting to get through the climax of a story just so I could revel in the happily ever after or even the it sucked and then we all cried and died.

As a writer, I always think, Nah. Nobody's going to be interested in that self-indulgent twaddle.

Clearly I need to think this through.

Elizabeth Twist: Writer, Plague Enthusiast

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