Please Remain Seated Until the Ride Stops

Song of the Day: The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars

Do you spend a little extra time writing the ending of your book, or do you breeze through it with ease? You would think that because it is the end, it would be a snap to wrap that puppy up and call it a day, right? Wishful thinking.

This past week, I finished book #3 in my “Romancing the Pirate” series. But it didn’t come easy. Though I knew sort of what was going to happen – yes, I am a card-carrying pantster – I really had no idea how the story would get to ‘the end’. Guess you could say I’m just along for the ride, much like a reader. All I knew for sure was there would be a lot of nail biting, breath-holding action, and a happy ending. Pirates deserve to be loved, too, you know.

Completing this manuscript was, at times, tedious. I experienced moments of shear genius, my prose burning up the keyboard with g-force speed. This would be followed by the clackety-clack-clack of agonizing drags lasting days. Now, I am so exhausted, I have jet lag.

The scenes were drafted in my head barring any details or dialogue. The good guys, aka pirates, fought the bad guys, aka corrupt government (how’s that for irony). Yet, it took me much longer to write the scene than I would have liked.  Eventually, the hero bests the villain and wins his heroine. Great, only I didn’t feel the story was done. Ohhh no. I needed to make the hero and heroine suffer more. It only seemed right. Once I decided on how to put their lives in jeopardy again with a harrowing near death escape, I blazed right through it in just a couple of hours.

And still, I couldn’t write the words ‘the end’ just yet. An epilogue was in order to tie up all loose ends. This should be no problem. Okay, okay, I admit, keeping up with the Kardashians is easier than answering all the questions left in the wake of the prior 17 chapters.

Some writers make charts to help them keep track of all subplots, characters, and objects relevant to their stories. Others wallpaper their writing spaces with post-it notes. And still others have outlines, notebooks, dry erase boards, and files. I envy them. Though I do keep notes from time to time, I don’t do these things. I can’t. As I write, the tales evolve on their own, surprising even me on occasion. I’m free to let the characters tell the story through their eyes. Otherwise, I’m convinced, with my compulsive organizational skills, the narrative would come out stiff.

I somehow remember all those loose ends. Granted, it does take some serious staring out of the window and face scrunching, but I rarely forget any points that need to be revisited. I chalk it up to the way I do my first round edits. Once I’m finished with a chapter, I print it out for editing. I can’t move forward until I have read through, made changes, and strengthened the writing. Anal retentive? You bet! It certainly isn’t an easier method than plotting with charts or color-coding with sticky notes, but it works for me simply because I retain more of the story as I go along.

And then there’s the added stress of writing the killer last line, the sentence that signifies all is right in the world, the final words which make the reader go “Whew! That was awesome!”

Stop. Go. Stop. Go. That defines how I write the endings to my novels. What about you? Do you find that when you get close to the end it’s like a downhill ride and you write faster? Or are you more like me, where the roller coaster has its ups and downs and hair pin turns, but near the end, the ride slows down until that final jerk and the seat restraint lifts?

Let me hear from you!

14 Responses to Please Remain Seated Until the Ride Stops

  1. Melissa says:

    All I can say is I know exactly what a yo-yo feels like! LOL Lots of ups and downs here. And those last few chapters are the hardest for me. I think it’s because I’m worried I won’t be able to tie it all together or that the story just isn’t good enough. Self doubt is my worst enemy.

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  2. jbrayweber says:

    Missy, you know self-doubt? Small world. LOL!
    It’s funny. I know the basic shell of how it all wraps up but the details and logistics is a big worry of mine.
    What do you say we nab self-doubt, throw a bag over its head, drive it to a secluded location, and beat the tar out it? 🙂

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  3. Nina Cordoba says:

    The endings are usually the easiest for me. I don’t usually know the exact ending when I start writing, but it comes to me at some point during the process. On the other hand, I’ve had to struggle a lot with beginnings and descriptions. One great thing about the end is that all the detailed descriptions are over by then and I mostly have to write some great dialog or internal monologue to finish off the story.

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  4. jbrayweber says:

    Nina~
    The beginnings, so far, have not been an issue for me. I know exactly how the stories starts and how high the stakes are before I ever write the first word. And descriptions are a breeze for me. I guess we all have are strengths and weaknesses. That’s also why we should have a few good critique partners to help us out in times of need.

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  5. Suzan H. says:

    Gotta admit the end is hard for me, but it’s because I don’t want the ride to end. I’m having too much fun.

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  6. jbrayweber says:

    I know what you mean, Suzan. It’s a lot like saying good-bye to a friend. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
    Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. Stacey Purcell says:

    Writing an ending that doesn’t feel sappy or feel like you’re ending is a huge challenge for me. I like everything to come together in a neat basket, but I hate it when I can tell that’s what the author is doing. I’m not sure what makes the difference,I just know when it’s happening. It’s like the author says, “Ok class, sit down and let me sum everything up for you because this is the end.” It should feel like it’s still an integral part of the story!
    My ending right now pretty much sucks wind and will be an editing point for sure. I am also a true pantster and a new ending just came to me last week…we’ll see what happens. Thanks for posting.

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  8. jbrayweber says:

    Reader satisfaction, I think, is what makes the difference. They want the bad guys to lose. They want the good guys to win. They want the romance to connect. Bringing it all together is tricky, though.
    Good luck with that new ending, Stacey. Here’s hoping it doesn’t suck wind. LOL!

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  9. Kristen says:

    I’ve only finished one. It was pretty much pages 250 – 325 that sucked the life out of me. Finishing at 415 was pretty much a smooth slide after that.

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  10. jbrayweber says:

    I hear you, Kristen. The middle can be a real bugger, too. Sometimes, I like to brainstorm with friends to help keep it fresh. And almost always, I write slower when I write fight scenes. I do a lot of acting moves out in my office. The cats just look at me funny. 😀

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  11. Jody says:

    I’d never write a complete manuscript if I already knew the ending. I like surprises.
    Jody

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  12. jbrayweber says:

    Jody~
    It’s the same for me with movies, too. If I know the ending, why would I want to watch the whole movie? Or, if I’ve seen the movie, I won’t read the book. Knowing spoils it for me. I’m sure there are plenty who would disagree with me (shrug).
    Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. Candi says:

    Jenn! You’ve always amazed me with your ‘habits’! I still don’t comprehend how you can keep your intricate plots straight.

    For me? I’m a plotting pantser. Oxymoron? Sure. But it works. I have a notebook with all kinds of random notes that come to me at different times, but no solid structure as I write. I let the story unfold.

    I used to do the same as you when it comes to the end though. It has to have a moment, and I often won’t know what it is until I’ve tried several, that tells me it’s the end.

    Great post!

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  14. jbrayweber says:

    Hey Candi~
    I guess the good thing about face-scrunching and staring out the window is that I only come up with one ending. I haven’t had a story where I rewrote the end. I run it all in my head before I write it down.
    I used to keep a notebook with random thoughts and ideas. Someday, I’ll even create stories with those notes. Now, where did I put that thing? LOL!
    Whatever you are doing, Candi, it works, because you have some pretty darn amazing stories! I’m always satisfied!

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