Hi everyone! Thanks so much for having me over at The Writing Playground. This is my first visit and I’m thrilled to be here!
I thought I’d talk briefly about endings, wrapping things up and making them tidy. Maybe because Christmas is in the air. Or maybe because I’m almost (so close yet it seems so far) from the point of handing in my current story. I’ve done some of the hard work but the hardest is yet to come – rewriting the ending. After all, typing ‘the end’ on a book is enormously satisfying, especially when a writer sometimes has doubts if she’ll ever get there.
I’m a girl who loves happy ever afters. I adore that sigh-worthy finale to a book that makes you sink into your chair with pleasure. I dislike movies that end suddenly, without resolving issues, leaving you feeling stranded, high and dry. If I’ve invested my time into a book (or a film for that matter) the end is the pay off for me. OK, so I don’t need to know precisely how many children the hero and heroine will have and whether they decorated their home in pastels or vibrant colours, but I do like to know all the issues have been resolved. In a romance that means that they each admit their feelings (even if heroes may be a bit laconic about it), they confront their issues and find a way to move forward together.
I’ve been waiting right through the story, hanging on every word through tense scenes, following the highs and lows of a rollercoaster ride that’s full of emotions, surprises and doubts. Hopefully it’s been a nail biting ride – after all I want my money’s worth. Is it any wonder I, and other readers, want to luxuriate in an ending that not only wraps up the story but resolves all doubts?
This is where I’ve run into trouble with my current manuscript. I wrapped up the issues OK, but I was galloping along so fast, trying to get it down between major interruptions. The result: I rushed it. Yes, there was emotion, but really, it needed more layers, more depth. There wasn’t enough to really hit the reader with the intensity of the hopes and fears and finally the joy that I was trying to deliver. It didn’t live up to the promise of the earlier chapters. So, I’m revising to get it right before I send it to my editor.
I think it’s because by the time I get to the final chapter I feel a little like a horse who’s been out on a long trek and sees its home paddock ahead. I pick up pace, I become focused on where I’m going and I don’t take as much time as I should to enjoy the scenery as I go. Do horses enjoy scenery? Well, you know what I mean!
Having said all that, I can report there’s enormous satisfaction in going back and fixing this. The bones of the ending are there. It’s just fleshing out the all important emotional detail. Normally I aim to write all of that together, but at least this means I know where I’m headed and what I have to do. And, fingers crossed, it seems to be working. My poor heroine is having a terrible time. So is my hero. Great! That way we’ll really enjoy it when they overcome the obstacles between them.
I’ve always been a fan of a terrific beginning in a story. Yet, as I think about endings I realise some of the strongest scenes come at the conclusion of a story. Think about Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, going off with his old foe/friend Claude Rains, talking about ‘the beginning of a beautiful friendship’. Just after he’s given up the woman he loves because he believes it’s the right thing to do. Or the memorable ‘Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn’ at the end of Gone with the Wind. Or the destruction of Manderley in Rebecca.
Are you someone who loves the delicious wait till the end? Do you enjoy not knowing how a story is going to be resolved? Or do you do as one reader I’ve met and read the ending before you start the story? Do you want a long, slow ending, or do you prefer a short sharp scene with maximum impact? A fan of epilogues or not? Or maybe you like a twist of surprise in the tail. Do you have favourite endings you’d like to share?
To make it enticing to share, I’ll offer a copy of my December Harlequin Presents Extra release: BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INEXPERIENCED WIFE to one person who contributes to the discussion. Easy! If you want to find out more about the book visit my website or go to eHarlequin where you can read the opening. I’m happy to say I can guarantee Dario and Alissa get their happy ever after ending.