Thursday, February 12, 2009
After spending about a month in the deep freezer, it is looking like spring here this week (including tornado watches). Every pile of snow and patch of ice has melted, saturating the ground to the point that it can hold no more. My backyard looks like a shallow pond, and the water is seeping into my basement. (That's what I did yesterday instead of editing.)
Why can't a thaw take its good old time occurring? I hate it when weather changes overnight. My body, particularly my sinuses, can't adjust that fast.
Truly I've seen too many books that experience a kind of meltdown as the author races to get to THE END within the word count or page limit.
I was talking to a friend who stayed up late into the night reading a CBA fiction. She was savoring the storyline, but was left disappointed by the ending as all the details rushed together and too quickly tied up the ending. The wrap-up left the reader with a chocolate baking chip when she wanted a French chocolate bonbon.
How can an author avoid the ending meltdown? Here are a couple of my suggestions.
1) Outline. Over the past 15 years, I've seen that some of the best story pacing and flow comes along with an author using a prepared story outline. Many authors balk at outlining, feeling they will be fenced in, but in my experience, the outline is freeing and even helps avoid the dreaded occurrences of writer's block. The outline helps the author map out a plan to know where the story is going, still there is plenty of room for figuring out and filling in details as you go -- and even the occasional detour.
2) Self Edit. If only authors would allow themselves as much time to edit the end of the book as they generally allow for the beginning. I know as I've written, I'll often go back over the first half of the book a dozen or more times, but as I get to writing the end, the time for going back to edit is often lessened by a looming deadline. If you've rushed your writing window and not given yourself enough time to let the ending simmer, then you risk having an ending that comes across as abrupt and unfulfilled for the reader. So stew on how you will end your story and allow yourself enough time to write and rewrite it without being under the pressure of the clock.
Those are just a couple of my ideas. I'd love to hear your ideas for avoiding a story meltdown.
Editor Du Jour Becky