Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wrapping Things Up

What I'm reading: Pride and Pleasure, by Sylvia Day.

Yesterday, the contractor told us that he'd requested the final electrical inspection, which is independent of the final inspection. Given that there was, in my mind, still work to be done, I wondered if he was trying to move too fast.
Sure enough, the inspector found four basic omissions which will have to be corrected. These seemed to be relatively obvious and simple things an electrician should know, but given that it's his job, and the job of the contractor to make sure everything meets code, I'm not going to fret. (After all, I'm the one holding the checkbook.)

When we're writing, we have to make sure we conform to the "code" of our stories. Whether we're aware of them or not, we're making promises to the reader. Just like the electrician promises a safe house, an author promises the reader that everything in the story will hold together.

I wrote the first scene of chapter 33 in my manuscript the other day, before getting "sidetracked" by digitizing things for All Romance eBooks. (Which, by the way, now includes 3 more choices.)

With my WIP at a Word count of almost 98K, it's time to wrap things up. I realized the brick wall I thought I'd run into was only there because the book was technically over. The mystery/suspense threads had been resolved. My heroine was safe. This isn't a book with international bad guys who might show up at any time. It was time to resolve the romance threads and get the heck out.

For me, writing effective endings is one of the hardest parts of writing a book. First there's the, "I've spent so much time with these characters, I don't want to leave them," syndrome. Then there's the, "If I finish this, what will I do next?" because I don't have the precursor to this book under contract, so is it worth writing yet another in this series? And the real question. "How can I write something that will satisfy the reader, but make them want more." Riding off into the sunset doesn't cut it anymore.

So, it became too easy to procrastinate. However, given that this is only the first draft, I don't have to leave my characters. And it'll be some time before I have to deal with what to write next. Leaving, of course that "make it good" issue, but again, this is just the draft.

And as I go through it again, I'll be thinking about that electrician. I don't want to leave things unfinished. When I write, I tend to put in things I'm not sure I'll need, but I want to make sure the story flows. I find it's much easier to cut than to add, since I really work hard at keeping things tight. By putting something on the page, you're telling the reader it's important, so if I'm not going to use it, then I need to cut it, not leave a reader hanging, wondering what that redhead was doing in chapters three and seven, never to be seen again.

My crit partners have been my inspectors as I've written each chapter. Rather than waiting until it's finished, I've had flaws and omissions pointed out to me along the way. Now it's time to write that closing scene, and then get going on my final inspection.

Tomorrow, thanks to my mom, we've got another field trip.


Sherry Gloag said...

My word your contractors are causing you a lot of problems -or giving you plenty of writing material- whicever way you care to look at it. I hope it all wraps up soon for you.
It may seem obvious that a writer would know when they've reached the end of a book, but I've read them both ways. Where the writer has carried on when the story's over, and even more annoyingly, they've penned 'the end' when there's still plenty more the reader wants to know, and they know the writer isn't thiking in terms of a miniseries.
Congratulatios on finishing the story.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think we share a similar approach as far as putting in extras. Sometimes I put in little bits that I think *might* help with transitions or to develop a character--but know that half the time I end up taking it out later. And endings are much, much harder for me than beginnings are. I fret over my clues and my endings the most out of everything.

Ciara said...

I'm glad you made it past your "brick wall." Keep going! Sorry to hear about your contactor issues.

Terry Odell said...

Sherry (et al) in reality this is the BEST contractor job we've had. I already know enough that when they say, "six weeks maximum" it's going to go over. It was just some of his scheduling glitches (and, IMHO a lazy electrician) that have caused the delays. Someday I'll post the story of our Orlando bathroom remodel. Now THAT'S a horror story.

Terry Odell said...

Sherry, I did spend some time with the characters last night, and I think I've found the secret brick that opens the wall.

Elizabeth - I think dealing with the details cramps my style. I know 'someone' will be the character who ends up revealing my heroine's secret, but I'm not exactly sure who, or how, until I write it. Then I adjust as necessary.

Ciara - thanks (and did you know you were the winner of last week's contest. Email me so I can get you your prize.)

Rebecca Zanetti said...

Hey Terry! I struggle with endings, too. I'm a sap and love a happy ending, so have to make sure my endings aren't too sappy. :)

Unknown said...

Knowing when to finish a story can sometimes be difficult - sometimes because we've left loose ends hanging, sometimes because we just don't want to say goodbye. I almost always start writing with a good idea of how I want the story to end, but somehow the ending has a way of morphing on me the closer I get to it. I never know just how a story is going to end until I've typed it out - and usually several times, at that!

Terry Odell said...

Rebecca - in romantic suspense, you have to end the book twice, more or less. Wrap up the suspense and then the romance. And I'm not one for 'let's wrap it up in an epilogue' ending.

KM. So true. I wrote 2 endings for one of my books - when it was published as Starting Over, we used one of them, and now as Nowhere to Hide, I used the other, because I thought it worked better. Readers rarely, if ever, see the false starts.

Rachel Lynne said...

I'm learning so much from your posts! My first romantic suspense showed me what I could do but I was also constrained by submission guidelines. Now that I'm not, I'm heading in the mystery direction and taking copious notes from you! I'm enjoying What's In A Name and I bought one for my mother too: she is reading faster so I have to keep telling her not to talk about certain things: I holler over the phone "wait! I'm not there yet!!"

Maryannwrites said...

Terry, I almost hate to see your remodel project end and we will no longer have these great analogies. Again, you have made some great connections to writing. I have seldom had a huge problem with endings, but I did with one short story. Wrote it five different ways and was tempted to send it off with a "choose your own ending" caveat. It's much easier when our writers' instincts tell us the story is finished.

Terry Odell said...

Rachel - hope my posts have helped -- but I hope you're looking at lots of other sources as well. And so glad you and your mom are reading What's in a Name?

Maryann - at this rate, the analogies will go on for a while longer! Most authors worry about sagging middles. I have the most trouble with beginnings and endings. My first crit partner used to say, "You write a beginning, a middle, then more middle and more middle."

Janice Seagraves said...

All too true. Good luck with the inspector, electriction and the ending of your book.

Terry Odell said...

Janice - thanks. The electrician was back this morning, along with the contractor, so that much should be done. The drywall guy called in sick; we'll have to see if he's going to show up tomorrow. Lots of little things to patch up.