Thursday, 5 November 2009

Coming to The End

Which part of writing a story, or a book, do you enjoy most? Looking at the blank screen in front of you, deciding where to start? Oooh no - that may be exciting but it can also be scary and overwhelming, especially at the start of a novel. The middle - if it's all going well and you're enjoying it and have a bit more idea where it's going? Yes, that can be exhilarating and even quite surprising when ideas come out of nowhere and characters sometimes do things you didn't even plan!

But for me, the lead-up to the end is often the most exciting. Not that I'm particularly good at endings - sometimes, especially with short stories, I change the last couple of sentences lots of times before I'm happy that they're snappy enough. But approaching the final chapter of a 100,000 word novel can be a great adrenalin rush. I've been at that stage this week, and I could hardly bear to be away from the computer - I knew exactly how I wanted to finish the story, and how I wanted to get there, but of course, it couldn't be rushed ... and the very last words of the last chapter had to be just right. Typing them made me want to shout Hooray!!

But then ... oh dear. That very first chapter, that I've been worrying about all the way through but was determined not to go back to until I'd finished the book, now needs some attention - and I've got no excuse for putting it off any more! Not so good.

And then ... the dreaded submission process to 'look forward to'. Enough said!

Ah well. 'The end' isn't actually the end at all, of course!


  1. This made me smile Olivia. Even though you are by any standards a successful writer you are still filled with the same insecurities as the rest of us.
    After I'd written the final sentence of my yet unpublished - still in the drawer novel I read it back to myself and though "What?" I didn't change it though because that was what I wrote and that was the way that I wanted to end it. trust me though if an agent offers me representation as long as I change the last sentence it'll be gone as quickly as I can delete it.
    Good luck.

  2. I know this is on a much smaller scale, Olivia, but when I get to the end of a short story then go back to read the beginning with all the knowledge of my characters now in my head I quite often find myself saying: 'So-and-so wouldn't have said that' and change it. Goodness knows what I'd be like if I wrote a novel!

  3. Insecurities, Colette? Moi??? Believe me, they never go away! We're only ever as successful as our current contract and currently I haven't got one! I've also just had another 3 short stories turned down in one e-mail so my insecurities are yelling at me quite loudly right now! And I know what you mean about changing your novel if an agent asked you to! You're right, and I agree - I'd change a whole book if necessary (and have been known to ...)!

    And Helen, I know just what you mean. I do that in short stories too so you can imagine what I'm like with a novel! But in this instance I'm just not happy that the first chapter 'grabs' the reader enough. So it needs re-writing - unfortunately.

  4. The openings I struggle with the most - I tinker and tinker trying to make them 'grabby' enough, until I probably ruin them! I love getting to the end and actually look forward to editing too :o)

  5. I'm with you on that, Karen. I'm still re-writing the first chapter! In fact I've decided to swap the first chapter with the second, which of course involves a lot of shifting about of stuff which needs to then be moved from one chapter to the other to make sense .... eeek! But I'm getting there, I keep telling myself! x