So, when is it truly "The End"??
I have come to realize now that I am working on my third book, that the rough draft is just that: rough.
As an artist, I had to learn early on how to let go of my work. I had to learn that my artwork isn't me, but only an expression of me. If I decided never to let it go, then I would never have the pleasure of knowing that my work hangs in the homes of dozens of people all over the country. I have the distinct pleasure of knowing that a friend or family member looks at my drawing or painting and for a moment, thinks of me. How great is that??
I am realizing now that it is the same with writing. You have to be willing to let it go....and remember that your story isn't you, but an expression of you.
As I sat with my editor yesterday, he bluntly told me my ending was flat and anti-climactic. I already knew this since I had written the ending almost 2 years ago. I knew that since I went back and added so many new scenes (and 6 more chapters...) that the ending no longer reflected the story within. My characters had developed in such a way that the ending didn't match up with who they were.
The revision process can be so very daunting, but also exciting! I had the chance to go back and add more depth, challenge, conflict, and choices to my characters that now I like them so much more than previously. I added more drive and ambition to the characters, but also vulnerabilities. They are people I would like to know in real life.
I had a chance to go back and escalate the plot....heighten the action and drama to entice the reader to want more. There's more progression now toward the resolution.
But then the ending spoiled it all.
So, after meeting with my editor, together we held a brainstorming session where we talked about endings to other "second acts" in movies and plays. What makes a second act so compelling? Even though there will be a third act, the second act still has to have a satisfying resolution to the story. Readers need to enjoy the ending yet still want to read what happens next.
My favorite example is "The Empire Strikes Back" from the Star Wars saga. I remember well sitting in the theatre when the final credits rolled. People all around me were so disappointed that it was over. They wanted to see their hero, Luke, go after Han Solo! But now they would have to wait 3 more years to find out what happened!
Yet when you ask Star Wars fans which movie was their favorite, 9 out of 10 times they mention "Empire Strikes Back" because of the plot, the big reveal, the ending, and how it left them wanting more!
A second act ending should have that impact.
So, after our brainstorming session, my editor and I threw around some endings until I mentioned a few things I had in mind and ....BAM! That was it! We both sat up in our chairs and realized we had found the ending the book needed!
How fun is that??
When does a revision truly end? I knew my first book was absolutely finished when I wrote "The End" after that last chapter. I knew I had given the reader a satisfying climactic ending that hinted of the sequel and left them wanting more. People who have read my first book have asked me what happens next, and that is a good sign!
But with the sequel, I have had to go back now and rewrite several scenes during this revision process. I still cannot say that I am ready to write "The End" yet. I will know when I know.
There comes a time when you just know. And you save your work, close your lap top, sit back, and smile as you imagine your readers reading that last sentence wondering what happens next.
All because you took the time to let it go....rework your work...and take a chance.
Did I mention writing is fun?? :)