As writers, do you ever have that feeling? There comes a time in the lives of many manuscripts where you just want to pound out "The End", no matter what it takes. You're sick of the characters, sick of the story, sick of not being done when you thought you'd be free a month ago. Your book is a ball and chain, dragging you away from much more interesting projects. You're ready to submit it to your editor or agent, or your potential editor or agent, and sometimes your critique partners are starting to make snarky comments about those final chapters never seeing the light of day. If the manuscript were a book I was reading instead of writing, I would want to slam it closed, maybe slam it against a wall.
With several manuscripts, I got so desperate to wash my hands of this story, I skipped over the last third of the book, faked the ending, and then filled in the blanks, polishing as I went. I just wanted to be DONE.
Because I lose patience with the process, I suppose, endings are my most challenging part of writing a book. I can dream up story premises, appropriate characters and whiz-bang first chapters until the cows come home. I enjoy the middles, the meat of the book, where characterization and adventure are key.
But the endings? The endings crinkle my drawers. I struggle with conceiving them, plotting them, struggling to reach them, and most of all, doing them justice. They intimidate me and they elude me. Yet if I don't know roughly how a book's threads will tie into the finale, I can't write beyond the first scene or so. And, since I'm partially a "pantser", it's not unusual for my threads and plot points to morph as I tip-tap through the book, sometimes altering the conclusion.
Some authors are organized and determined and pre-plot everything, outline it and actually stick to what they decided they were going to do in the first place. Some can write a book without knowing the ending, happily flying into the mists of their imagination and excited about the journey. And some are like me, stuck in the middle of panting and plotsing, needing to do a bit of both in order to remain motivated.
How about you? Do you need to know every detail about your ending before you can make the book happen? Or does it come as a surprise to you? (And by surprise I mean something besides "surprisingly sucktastic".)
SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST--Available now, Samhain Publishing