Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Don't Rush The Ending

As I got close to finishing my most recent novel, I found that patience was an even greater need than it had previously been.  That’s because I was so close to the end that I found myself anxious to finish.  I had to go back and re-write entire sections because they took for granted details that, upon further review, were necessary to create the experience necessary for the story to reach a satisfying conclusion.

This seems to be a trap many writers fall into.  We get so close and want to push to the end that we rush the last part of our work.  I’ve forgotten to wrap up character arcs, put in a key piece of explanatory dialogue, and even pivotal pieces that lead to the final sentence.  All of this rush has led to extra work when I’ve had to go back.

Slowing down and being deliberate are much more crucial near the end of a novel than in the middle.  When we’re 150 pages into writing a 400 page book, it’s easy to stay deliberate because the story is still developing in our eyes.  By the end, though, we figure we’ve said just about all we can say, so we hurry to write the last line, let out a long sigh, and celebrate finishing our latest masterpiece(preferably with an adult beverage).

When you get close, take a break from writing, no matter how near to the end you think you are.  Then go back and re-read the last 20 or so pages.  It should set the mood, and the break will let you find things you never knew you were missing.  I get that completing work as involved as writing a novel is enticing, but would you rather have to go back and re-write, or would you like to be as close to finished while the story is straight in your mind as possible?

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