The End is Nigh

In know this seems like a silly question, but how do you know when you’ve come to the end of your book?

I know there are writers out there who plan everything down to the last detail; an elegant narrative arc, what happens in each chapter and, probably, the final sentence. I understand it involves index cards and post-it notes – lots of post-it notes, in carefully chosen colours. They probably have notebooks as well which they carry everywhere and leave beside the bed at night, to catch every waking thought.

I’ve tried it – I have a lovely collection of blank notebooks and my post-it notes record only illegible phone messages.

I started my book by accident. It emerged from a writing exercise and continued at random. If my protagonist goes on a journey, do I have him leave, then arrive at his destination in the next paragraph? Let’s have him meet someone on the journey, just to add a bit of excitement. I end up with a visit to Anglo-Saxon London, an orgy and a character who may appear in a future book.

I thought I had an ending, but was encouraged to carry on.

Recently I knew I was getting towards the end. I had a big scene, violent and emotional, that I had been mulling over for some time. Could I transfer it onto the page? I managed to get something down. Only another scene and then something to tie up the loose ends. I wasn’t quite sure about the final words, but I was sure something would emerge as I wrote.

Last week was end of term at the writing class. We had to bring something to read out. I took my “big scene”. I didn’t read  out the whole scene, time was short, but quoted in passing the last few lines. Someone asked if that was the end. I said it was the end of that chapter, but there was more before the end of the book.

Afterwards this conversation nagged at me. Suddenly I realised that they were right – that was the end of the book!

The extra scenes, that I was about to write, would be the perfect start for the next book.

So there I was, the book was finished and I hadn’t even realised. I sit here now, preparing to start editing. I’m sure a lot will change. I will discover my sparkling prose is not as wonderful as I thought and my “darlings” will be bloodily massacred. Does that orgy scene progress the plot or is it only self-indulgence? As they say – Watch this Space!

And those final words? (With names removed to protect the innocent plot)

“You should have killed him.”

“I know. But he used to be our friend.”

One thought on “The End is Nigh

  1. Pingback: Getting towards the end – but where is it? | Byrhtnoth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.