Sunday, February 25, 2007

How do you find the other end?

Whew! The climax is complete. But now what? I love what has happened to my characters, but where do they go from here? Have any of you writers out there struggled to write the denouement? I sort of feel the way I felt after watching the end of SCHINDLER'S LIST in the theatre...staring at the screen, numb and bewildered, not wanting to leave, face wet with emotion. So I sat staring at the last page of the last chapter I finished for several hours yesterday, trying to figure out where to go next. Only a few pages left and I'm frozen!

I woke up thinking about the problem, and...I have decided to go ahead and start the revision process. Perhaps by the time I have read through the book, start to finish, and picked my way through my notes and made all the adjustments I can conceive of, I will have a natural sense of what to do. I hope so. I love this manuscript. It is the best thing I've written, and I love my characters. I want to do right by them.


  1. That's exactly what I was going to suggest. You never know how much your novel is going to change during the revision process. A year ago I thought mine was everything it could be. This year I totally rewrote the last half, changing everything. I still had trouble with the last chapter, but it wasn't nearly as difficult as the last line.

    So ya, leave that last chapter. When you get to it again, you'll hopefully have a better idea of how you want it to go.

    But if it bothers you, you could experiment with a couple of ideas and just toss them into a last chapter and see how they feel. When you come to that part in your revisions, it'll either feel right or wrong. If it feels wrong, you might have a strong reaction like, "hey, that's not what supposed to happen. This should happen."

    Might be worth a try.

  2. Thanks, Linda! I'm actually kind of looking forward to getting to know my characters from the beginning again. So much has happened to them. Now I can go back and see the difference more clearly. I think that will help with clarifying where the character started and foreshadow what's coming more effectively.

    I like your idea about keeping some ideas in a sort of experimental file. I'm a big one for jotting ideas and saving them just in case. They often spark other things that might work. Tanks!

  3. You're so close! It's fascinating to hear how others write. Myself, I couldn't begin a novel without knowing the end.

    When I think of fantastic last pages, I think of Ha Jin's Waiting, Ann Tyler's Digging to America, Amanda Eyre Ward's How to Be Lost, all of Alice Munro's short stories. In each, readers are left yearning. Nothing is quite resolved, yet there's a realization. What I like about those endings is that our minds turn again and again, to wonder about these characters, hoping they've found some greater understanding of their lives -- and our own. That's my goal.


  4. Thanks, Amy! It's not really that I don't know what will happen in the end, but how. Do I begin this last chapter a few hours from the climax? A few days? There will be an important letter in these last few pages that will certainly leave a few desirable loose ends. But how distant do I want to be from the big climax? I'm just not sure, yet.

  5. Since I cannot imagine writing a novel (I love pbs and early readers!) I have no advice! But I wanted to post anyway and say congrats and good luck!!

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Thanks, Dawnelle! (Your post was addedd twice, so I deleted the second one). I've started work on revising the first 2 chapters, and I have a lot to do. but I'm excited.

    I love PB's, but I haven't found the magic yet. However, in the middle of the night a few nights ago, I think I finally figure out how to fix a PB I wrote 4 years ago. Next project!

  8. Don't you love that? I sometimes pull out old work and think, "eew~ what was I thinking?" but then staring at it, get a new spin on whatever it was, and a whole new story is born.

    Good luck w/ your pb!!

  9. Your book sounds great! I'd love to read it. I love ghost stories and historical fiction.

    Do you know where you're going to submit it yet? It seems like there are many presses publishing good historical fiction these days.

  10. Thanks, Deirdre! I was blessed to work with an editor at the Chautauqua Writers Workshop last summer, and she has invited me to send it to her when I am done. She is a phenomenal editor and a wonderful writer in her own right. So, that's my first stop. There is no guarantee, but she really likes to nurture a writer and bring her along, so I'm hoping she'll see enough in the (tentatively) final version to bring me along.


Thanks to spammers, this blog is moderated, so don't be alarmed if your comment doesn't appear right away. Thanks for stopping by!