Friday, February 4, 2011

Getting to the end of my manuscript...

Nearly to the end of my WIP. Yay! Chocolate all round.

Usually what happens at this point is that I revise my outline, because the scene-by-scene breakdown won't be quite right. I'll have understated the importance of some elements and overstated others. Especially at the end of a novel, the balance between elements -- otherwise known as pacing, and it's not a magic word but a structural and technical trick -- is crucial if you don't want to lose your reader.

Subplots, I'm talkin' to you.

It's the third act, okay? People don't care about you... well, they do, but what they really want to read about at the climax is the main characters. The romance. How they get the bad guys.

How subplots wrap up is secondary. That's why they're called subplots

But without them, the main action won't make sense. Characters discover things and decide things. The scenes need to be there. Unless I want to cut those secondary characters altogether, and restructure, and, y'know. Rewrite the whole frickin' book.

So I'm keeping the subplot scenes short and to the point. Giving them the most gripping hooks at start and finish as I can. And interweaving them with the main action. Short scenes add to the illusion of pace, too, but for pulse-pounding excitement, you can't go past the old trick of actually having something happen. Ahem. I could point the finger at certain UF and romance series, but that'd be childish... 

So as a reader, how do you like your endings? Do you want the bad dude defeated, the romance resolved and boom, that's the end? Or do you like more of a slow let-down after the climax, with more happy-ever-after epilogue scenes? Or (shudder) do you adore the cliffhanger?


  1. I don't mind one particular type of ending over another. I like them to fit the tone of the book and the characters involved. Match those up, and I'm happy.

    And cliffhangers need not apply. ;)

  2. Subplots can be hard... but this is why some people like to draw complex flow diagrams of plot so they can make sense of it in their head and include things like time lines and the like... I can never be bothered with that, which is probably why I haven't been published yet :)

    My current plan to escape short story purgatory and actually write a god damned novel is to actually write 3 novellas and interweave them. Each one is a different point of view, a different story, but there will be points of intersection where we will see the same events through different eyes. I am hoping it will work... assuming I can get enough time to write more than the first few chapters...

  3. I really, REALLY dislike epilogues. So yes, I like BOOM the end ;-)

  4. Tough one! I'm not keen on the cliffhanger but I like the epilogue and the slam dunk-thank's-for-coming end. Depends on the book.

  5. I loathe those contrived cliffhangers where the author artificially obscures something the PoV character knows. Like, someone gets killed and they go, "Oh noes!!" but don't say who it is.

    It's like the Dan Brown chapter ending (and Dan Brown has a LOT of chapters): 'He opened the box, and couldn't believe what he saw!'