Blog 8 – The Art of Finishing

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Another month… and so another overdue blog to you, my dear reader. Unsurprisingly I am still busy trying to finish my latest book ‘Killing Time’, which gives me very little… ahem, time… to do anything else. But, I have great news. I am writing the last few chapters!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! Three cheers and all that. But… ach, it is so damn difficult.

Finishing like a pro

So, I have almost everything in place, and I have timed all the elements quite well so that the story comes to its conclusion around the 80-90,0000 word mark. Fantastic! That was an achievement in itself. Most of the time I was wondering if I was going to make it last long enough, and now I’m hoping it won’t be too long. I can cut bits out to reach my preferred commercial target though, the generally recognised most popular length with readers and publishers alike of 80,000 words for fiction.

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At one point, I was chucking the words out at 10,000 per week, but I have to say, I’m not so sure the quality is quite as high, so will need more editing… but that’s okay, the main thing was getting the story out into my personal world, and now I can make it perfect with the touch ups, the re-edits and all the knowledge of knowing exactly where the story is going.

But finishing holds with it such high expectations. How many times have you heard of a book or movie being really good, but with a disappointing ending? Maybe you had guessed the twist at the end, or it didn’t seem believable. Or, maybe… it just ended, but wasn’t interesting. If someone has spent 8 or 9 hours reading your book, they will normally want a pretty good conclusion. And so, even though I have a conclusion, to me, it is not yet exciting enough in my head.

Remember, a story needs 3 acts:

Hook

Build

Payoff

This is the shape any story must take.

A beginning that grabs the reader.

A middle that escalates in tension, suspense, stakes and excitement.

And an ending that brings it all home with a bang.

Well, almost. An end can be something that grabs us intellectually, or boy gets girl or Timmy gets a cure for cancer… something that satisfies… that is its bang!

So here I am, at the stage I’ve been waiting 5 months for. 5 months of slogging through the story, but able to push in a fairly wide choice of directions. But now… now I’m approaching that ending and the responsibility is tough!

My way around this for the moment is to just write the end.

Then write it again… but different

And again…

And maybe my creative side can find the most interesting and exciting conclusion, to what I hope people find to be a great story.

It is better than looking at that flashing cursor and wondering what I might find on Amazon to buy for Christmas presents. And certainly better than giving up.

Yep, the thought does occasionally pop into my head, but that would be crazy after 85,000 words wouldn’t it? I bet some do though.

Luckily for me, I’m going on a writer’s retreat next week, a good place to finish my first draft with its change of scenery and a few other writers to bounce ideas off.

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If you have reached that tough first 30,000 word point… then well done, that is the first tough stage completed. Look at your book so far and decide at this point if it is a goer or if you need to start again. That is what most writers do. It is tough to start a completely new project, but better than slogging the proverbial dead horse.

If it is good, fantastic, because the next 30,000 or 40,000 words are going to be easier. Just don’t be surprised when the 3rd act starts and you get nervous though.

It is only stage fright after all.

 

Good luck to all my writer friends – budding, and successful authors too.

Mark

 

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