Monday, March 28, 2016

Nerd Friends and Novel Endings

Fifteen years of writing novels. Four years of critique group. Two and a half years of interviewing authors and discussing nitty-gritty writing craft.

And I still – STILL – approach endings as the writing equivalent of Chinese water torture.

Ask Giles and the Emilys…endings are my downfall. Snark? Got it. #SquadGoals? Definitely. Endings? Ehhhhhh. I get to the last five chapters and every gram of my writerly brain goes, “Da heck you doing? You can’t end it like this! You suck!”

My beta readers give me similar notes (without the “you suck” part, of course). “I loved the first two parts, but the ending... It’s like you lost your groove.” And they’re right. I can’t even pull the “You just don’t understand my art!” card. I get to the end, and my tension flatlines and my characters listlessly wander the landscape. 

Sometimes, even stepping back doesn’t help. The problem gets bigger. My WTF Alarm rings constantly when I’m in the middle of writing an ending: “I don’t understand. The rest is SO GOOD and this is PURE CRAP.” And then I let my insecurities become an excuse for inaction: “If it’s going to turn out like this every time, I’m not even going to write. So there!”

Enter the nerd friends.

Without my nerd friends, I wouldn’t finish anything. They bug me about rewrites and help brainstorm edits. When I sit at the table mumbling to myself about soldiers on the street and teleporting with passengers, they nod and smile and make me sketch things so they can glance at them and say, “You’re making it too complicated.”

So here's to Emmy, who listened to my ideas for a totally different ending and whose excitement made me glad (instead of sad) that I was rewriting so much. To Emer, who shoots down my terrible ideas before I can become attached to them. To Giles, who reminds me to be enthusiastic about my story because it's awesome, gosh dangit. To my critique group, who didn't realize at first that they were telling me to delete and rewrite three entire chapters, yet managed to do it in the nicest way possible. 

The only way to fix your book is to let your friends boss you around. Sit down, find where the problem starts, and write.

Michelle spent twenty minutes trying to come up with a cute bio for this space, and she just can't anymore. Can "I just can't even" be an excuse to go home early? That should be a thing. Let's make it a thing. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm good at beginnings and ends, where I fail is in the middle. It is sort of like I'm planning to fly from Boston to London and then finding myself on a tricycle in Kansas.

    I'll have to look into this friends thing, maybe I can rent one.