This week's blog is short, but it is one of the most critical parts of writing.
Getting the story done!
If you don't ever finish anything, why are you writing? Don't you want to know how your story ends? How will you ever get it out into the published world for readers if you don't ever get the story finished. I am writing this blog today because I have just put the finishing touches on a book I have been working on with a co-author. This past week we finally reached that wonder, final chapter and solved the mystery and set set up what may be the next book in the series.
The fun part of finishing the book is that feeling of accomplishment. Yes, we can still write finish a story. The next steps will not be nearly as pleasurable. We must go through and edit our work, and then make certain that all the elements of the plot actually work and that the story reaches its final logical conclusion in fine style.
Yes, getting to the end is not an easy task, but it's also only the beginning. I always tell writers that finishing is only half the job. We can have fun with our characters and enjoy working on the plot, but now comes the hard part.
We need to finish the editing process. Yes, we have been editing each chapter as we've gone along, but the final edits are still ahead and can make all the difference in the world.
Are all the loose ends really tied up?
Do the characters need more development?
Are all the grammar mistakes fixed?
Does the ending make sense?
Did we set it up so that readers see its logical conclusion?
Those are all things we will need to recognize and complete in the next stage -- the first edits.
First? You mean there are more?
I always recommend writers do more that one edit of any book. Because we are writing a mystery, all the loose ends need to be tied up and that ending has to make logical sense. But it also has to be a good read for mystery readers, and that means planning and executing on those little dead end clues we tried to plant along the way. We want some readers to figure out the ending, sure, but we also want those who didn't be able to go back and see where those little clues were-- those places the readers may have caught on to the ending.
In a romance, the reader usually knows how the story will end, that the hero and heroine will end up together, but those endings need to be satisfying too. Did the main characters change enough to achieve the happy ending they deserve? Did they grow into the person who will continue to earn that other character's love forever?
In science fiction, we also need that satisfying end. Whether writing a series or a stand alone, like with romance or mystery, the ending needs to make sense. Was the problem solved? Was the bad guy vanquished, or if not, was the world saved?
Leaving a few doubts in any of these genres can work if you are writing a series. Readers will want to move on and see what happens in the next episode, but even that won't work if you don't provide characters readers want to follow. The characters make the book and making certain those characters count is always the way to go. Whether you are writing a happy ending or a cliffhanger that pulls the reader into the next book, it's important to get those endings right and to let the reader put down the book with the final thought of Wow, I can hardly wait until the next book!
Happy writing and happy edits!