Category Archives: Endings

Progress and projects.

This weekend I did something I have never done before. I read Sing Sweet Nightingale in its entirety to my younger sister. Not that Haley couldn’t have read it herself, but she’s already read this book five or six times and I needed to read it aloud anyway for editing purposes. She hasn’t read the latest draft, so she volunteered to listen. Two birds and one stone and all that.

I already knew that reading text aloud can help you catch errors you wouldn’t see while reading silently (the human brain is such a strange place), but I wasn’t aware how much it could change your experience of your own book to read it to someone else. Moments that didn’t seem that amusing on the page are suddenly giggle-worthy and action sequences fly past as you read with the speed of a blow-by-blow fight commentator. The flip side is also possible, though. Moments you thought would be tear-jerking don’t come off with the same power as you thought they had or that dialogue you thought hid the massive exposition you needed to slip in doesn’t play it’s part as well as you’d hoped. Whatever the realization, good or bad, it’s worth the time and the slightly raw throat to read your book aloud. Preferably to an audience. Even if it’s an audience of one.

What this impromptu reading means in the larger scope of my life, though, is that I’m pretty much done with this round of edits! I’m waiting for one or two other beta readers to get back to me with notes (hopefully just to tell me I made all the right changes), then the draft goes back to the wonderful editresses for the next round! Line edits, I think. Which should be interesting. I’ve never done line edits before. It should be an experience, to say the least. The idea of examining each of my words with that much attention to detail is… daunting. In a good way, but daunting nonetheless.

I’m also nearing the time when I get to begin editing another project–something entirely different from anything else I have in the works and a project that I LOVE SO MUCH. The excitement level for this book is just, whoa. Love it. Things are happening with it and I really can’t wait to share more details, but for now, that’s it! Tis still in the works and up in the air, so I don’t want to say something now and have it not be true later. SEKRITS ARE FUN! Not really, but whatever. I have to pretend they are or I might go a little crazy. 😉

And, um… that’s it for now! Later, lovelies! <3

SSN Edits Round Two! Or is it three?

This week, I’ve begun work on a new round of edits for Sing Sweet Nightingale! I think it’s round two. But it might be three. Maybe 2.5? Whatever the number designation, it’s edits and it’s from my beloved editresses, so that means it’s awesome. 😀

It’s also pretty cool that I can put up the pretty, pretty cover when I talk about the book instead of some random image that has nothing to do with it. Don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that!

Anywho, edits. This round is tough! Which is weird because my edit letter is less than a third the size of my previous edit letter. I guess the broad strokes of fixing big problems were a little easier to deal with than examining a scene and surgically adding and removing to make it… not suck. I’m making progress and I still have time, so here’s hoping I can pull off all the tweaks I need to make. More updates shall follow. Eventually.

Also–and in non-editorial-related news–there’s only ONE MONTH LEFT until you can have a copy of my first ever published short story in your hands! Doorways to Extra Time releases August 27 and my story “Whatever It Takes” is the second one in the book! Fourth if you count the two introductions by the editors… Fourth or second, it’s still really early in the book! Read it and you get to meet a character who will show up in The Dream War Saga at some point! Not going to tell you which character, but at least one of them is coming back! Go order it now!

Buy Doorways from:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound

Why I won’t finish every book I start writing.

Old Road (c) greenchild

I had a realization this weekend. One that beautifully illustrated just how little I understand the workings of my own mind. I should be used to moments like this by now, but I’m not. It’s still weird.

At this moment, I have 31 standalone novels or series in progress. Yes, seriously. 31. I just counted. It’d be higher if I counted the books in a series individually. That seems like a lot, but what I realized this weekend is that at least 20 of those will never, ever, be published. They probably won’t even be finished. The purpose of this post is for me to try to explain why. Hopefully I can phrase it in a way that makes sense.

My subconscious works in strange ways and I’ve noticed that several stories will spring into my mind that all focus on a different angle of the same idea. I’ll start writing–usually getting between 5,000 to 20,000 words in–and then stop because either I don’t know where to go from there or another idea hits me and I start working on that one instead. This may seem like a waste of time to some people, but it’s not to me. What I didn’t realize until now is that this is how I explore different variations and angles of a core idea. Sometimes the idea isn’t even what I thought I was concentrating on. One of my newest projects, for example, pulls in an idea I’ve had floating around in my head for over a year with another idea I’ve tried to focus a story on a couple of times already. Only now that I’ve combined the two am I seeing the whole plot laid out in front of me and the possibilities for an entire world blooming around it. Only now do I have a story that might actually see the light of day in a few years.

The same thing happened with The Dream War Saga, as well. I realized when I constructed the world outside of Sing, Sweet Nightingale and looked at the way their universe works that I’d mirrored it on the world I’d dreamed up for my first failed series. The similarities were almost disconcerting until I saw that first series as a way to work out the kinks in an incredibly complex idea.

I’m trying to make a couple of points by poorly explaining this “Aha!” moment of mine.

1) Don’t let anyone tell you the way you work is wrong. Should you try other methods to see if they work better? Sure. Should you give up on yours just because it doesn’t make sense to someone else? NO. A lot of people would look at my folder of forgotten stories and shake their head over all the “wasted words,” but anything that gets you a step closer to having a finished, polished, beautiful book isn’t wasted.

2) It’s okay if you don’t finish everything. Sometimes you have an idea that’s just the beginning of something better. If you find yourself slogging through the first draft and hating it, consider putting it aside. Maybe you’ll find the inspiration you need to go back to it or maybe it was never meant to be finished. Maybe it was just a way for you to work out the answer to a question you didn’t know needed to be asked.

Edited to add: Just noticed this is my 300th post! Woohoo! Somehow I haven’t let this drop by the wayside yet! I’m very proud of myself. 😀

Endings: The Dos And Don’ts

I’m a believer in the theory that there’s no “right” way to do things in creative projects. Just think about it, if all artists followed tradition, we’d still be looking at stick-figure-like paintings or images of people only in profile. If all musicians stuck to the rules, we’d only be listening to chamber music… or probably not even that. The point is innovation and risk are a part of the creative process. However, in music, art, and writing, there are rules that are good guidelines to follow and others to avoid.

Writer’s Digest recently posted an article compiling some Dos and Don’ts to creating a compelling and successful novel ending. According to the author of the article James V. Smith, Jr., they are as follows:

Don’t introduce any new characters or subplots. Any appearances within the last 50 pages should have been foreshadowed earlier, even if mysteriously.
Don’t describe, muse, explain or philosophize. Keep description to a minimum, but maximize action and conflict. You have placed all your charges. Now, light the fuse and run.
Do create that sense of Oh, wow! Your best novelties and biggest surprises should go here. Readers love it when some early, trivial detail plays a part in the finale. One or more of those things need to show up here as decisive elements.
Do enmesh your reader deeply in the outcome. Get her so involved that she cannot put down your novel to go to bed, to work or even to the bathroom until she sees how it turns out.
Do resolve the central conflict. You don’t have to provide a happily-ever-after ending, but do try to uplift. Readers want to be uplifted, and editors try to give readers what they want.
Do afford redemption to your heroic character. No matter how many mistakes she has made along the way, allow the reader—and the character—to realize that, in the end, she has done the right thing.
Do tie up loose ends of significance. Every question you planted in a reader’s mind should be addressed, even if the answer is to say that a character will address that issue later, after the book ends.
Do mirror your final words to events in your opener. When you begin a journey of writing a novel, already having established a destination, it’s much easier to make calculated detours, twists and turns in your storytelling tactics. When you reach the ending, go back to ensure some element in each of your complications will point to it. It’s the tie-back tactic. You don’t have to telegraph the finish. Merely create a feeling that the final words hearken to an earlier moment in the story.
Don’t change voice, tone or attitude. An ending will feel tacked on if the voice of the narrator suddenly sounds alien to the voice that’s been consistent for the previous 80,000 words.
Don’t resort to gimmicks. No quirky twists or trick endings. You’re at the end of your story, and if your reader has stuck with you the whole time, it’s because you’ve engaged her, because she has participated. The final impression you want to create is a positive one. Don’t leave your reader feeling tricked or cheated.

I agree with that last rule especially. One trick that always pisses me off is getting to the end and finding out something ridiculous like, “It was all a dream” or “He’s actually crazy!” Learning that the story you just invested hours in never actually happened, or was all a lie, isn’t intriguing. It’s annoying. It makes the time feel wasted. At least, it does to me.

Are there ways to disobey every single rule on this list and still create a fantastic ending? Of course there is. Will most people who try to do that be successful? Nope. In fact, they’ll probably only succeed in creating a story that makes people roll their eyes and mutter, “You have got to be kidding me.” People remember endings in more detail than the rest of the story. Even if a reader enjoyed 90% of your book, you can turn them off of every buying another if you leave them with a sour taste in their mouth. So what’s the best advice to follow? Write the kind of ending you like to see when you’re reading someone else’s book.