|Paddle your own canoe or go with the flow?
I’m about a third of the way through the final read through of my fantasy, Covenant, having gone through the traditional love / hate relationship that characterises doing my own editing. Commas have been sacrificed and, occasionally, reinstated; sentences rewritten to the level of my tolerance.
You see, Covenant is an old book. And how I wrote then, hopefully, isn’t how I write now. It has its own voice though and that’s why I want to nurture through to the printed page.
What I’m most focused on is the ending.
It seems to me that the ending of a book has to serve a number of purposes:
1. To conclude the story. Or, if there are sequels to follow, to conclude that chunk of the story.
2. To tie up the loose ends you gave expectations of tying up.
3. To give the reader a sense of satisfaction because you have delivered the goods. The blurb did not lie. Thrills, spills, chills, and all manner of other rhyming words. (Grills?)
4. To whet the reader’s appetite for all your other writing.
5. To say goodbye to the characters and give them a decent send-off.
6. Paradoxically, to make the reader think about the characters after they’ve closed the cover – in a good way. When I read a book that has touched me, I’ll be thinking about the main characters for up to a week.
There are also those who say, “Leave ’em guessing. End with the sirens or the dragons arriving or the heroine holding a plane ticket that the reader can’t see clearly.”
Ending a book, for a writer, is also about saying goodbye to a segment of your life. Whether anyone reads your book or not (and cheers, Jem, for your last reading of Standpoint in case you’re passing), whether it’s published or not, I guarantee that every writer can be instantly transported back to that time if they were to read their work back again. Maybe that’s why I’ve been told that few authors enjoy reading their own books.
I sincerely hope I’ve done the reader and my characters justice with Covenant. Like every author I know that once it’s out there, a line is drawn and there’s no going back. Frankly, I’m looking forward to it!