Friday, November 8, 2013

The end time



Like most authors when I’m writing a book I usually write a terrible first draft. Pages filled with scrawled ideas and bland dialogue. I work on this first draft non-stop, sometimes for weeks until I get a good solid manuscript-length of material. But there is one thing I never do, and that is to write the end of the book.

When about eighty-percent of the first draft is written I go back and re-read the entire thing a second time. This second read allows me to clean up all the details and sharpen the plot and dialogue. But I still do not write the end portion, as is the case with my latest book.

After a second full read I spend an enormous amount of time, sometimes for months, picking up the manuscript and reading random sections, seeing if it grabs my attention in whatever scene that is occurring, while editing and making certain each section is as tight as it can be. At this point, I start to formulate an idea of how I want the story to end. I begin keeping a notebook and jot down ‘ah ha’ moments (parts in the story that I can foreshadow and use at the end) as they occur. Though I usually still do not know how everything will wrap up.

After many months of cleaning, polishing, and summing up all the subplots, characters, and scenes, I give the worked manuscript another full read from the beginning to the point where I am now, about to write the last section. This final read before writing the end is often terrifying. Sometimes I wonder if I can actually write the last section or if all my hard work will have been for naught. The fear that no ending will suffice often burns through me until it is actually written. Sometimes, I worry that the end won’t live up to the story.

Then, like a M80 firecracker exploding inside my skull, the solution came to me on how my latest book must end. This moment of clarity is illuminating and I nearly couldn’t write in my notebook my ideas for the finale fast enough. It is as if the ending section is a psychic gift from a higher source.

I am about to put these quickly scrawled ideas into my computer and I know now exactly how this book will end and it’s blowing my mind and I hope will blow reader’s minds also. I won’t reveal the title of my latest just yet (hint, hint… it’s hidden in this article) but it is a dystopian novel set fifty years after humanity has driven away an alien attack force. The book should be available by the Christmas season.