Monthly Archives: June 2015

Where are the Brakes on This Thing? How to End Your Novel Part I

As an editor, writing instructor, and novel critique consultant, I’ve had the privilege of reading hundreds of manuscripts in myBe A Novelist career. (I could probably say thousands, but I don’t want to appear presumptuous. smile) Through those experiences – and through my own novel writing – I’ve seen the challenges of creating a good novel ending.

Most beginning authors can plunge into the first chapter with some degree of abandon, but endings? Now that’s a different story. It can be nerve-racking – rather like coming right up to the edge of a precipice. How far is too far? How close is close enough?

Be A Novelist You Missed It…

When I read a novel manuscript that runs on for several pages after the end, I want to yell, Whoa! You missed the jumping off point. It’s back there. I never blame or point fingers, because knowing exactly when to stop is not an easy task. Especially if you are a first-time novelist.

One of the reasons it’s not an easy task is because you, as the author, want so much for your reader to come to the final page and lay the book down with a sigh of satisfaction. (If not a big smile of satisfaction.) Because you know that no matter how good the novel is, if the reader is disappointed in the resolution, the story has failed.

Whose Satisfaction

There’s a difference between reader-satisfaction, and author-satisfaction. It’s good to be aware of this fact. Be careful that your own satisfaction is not simply due to relief of completing the work. When you arrive at that last page, that last scene, that last line – step away from the work for a few days and let it cool then come back and objectively assess your closing solution(s).

We’ll assume for the sake of this discussion that your novel has been plotted correctly and now you’ve now come to the close. At Be A Novelistthis point, all story questions must be answered. Can you pull it off? Can you gather up all the loose threads, create a strong climax, and present the denouement as the pace slows and the curtain closes?

With practice, the answer is, Yes you can.

Who’s Right?

Some novel writers will warn you not to even start your novel unless you know how it’s going to end. Others will say they have no idea how their story is going to end until they’re halfway through the novel. Which one is right?

It’s the same with most all aspects of novel writing – they’re both right. Writers differ; they do what works best for them. You’ll find what works best for you.

The point isn’t when you know how the story will turn out – but that you know it soon enough to pull it off successfully

Coming Attractions

In Part II of Where are the Brakes on This Thing? How to End Your Novel we’ll continue looking at ways to create a pleasing conclusion to your novel. This is just one more way of moving out of the amateur level of novelist, and into the professional.

Photo Credit: © Lidian Neeleman | Dreamstime Stock Photos

 

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Be A NovelistThe Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection now has three 3 available titles:

Flower in the Hills, Tiger Beetle at Kendallwood, and Rockin’ Into Romance

These clean teen reads, while authored in the past, offer timeless story lines that teens love. 

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May I Have Your Autograph?

Recently I saw an online article that had to do with instructing new authors on the ins and outs of the act of signing autographs.

My first reaction was to chuckle.

You need someone to teach you how to sign your name?

But then I stopped. Perhaps this author was onto something. A couple of incidents came to mind, the first of which had to do with my own autograph.

Atrocious Handwriting

In my earliest days of writing – when I was publishing magazine articles only – I began to be concerned about my handwriting. I was convinced that one day I would be an author of books. (That was books as in the plural sense!) But my handwriting was, in my opinion, atrocious. It was stilted, stiff, and unnatural. It had no life to it.

So I began to practice signing my name. And I practiced. And practiced. And practiced. My desire was to achieve a flowing effect – not stilted.

Today, many years later, I had almost forgotten that concern. But at that moment in time it was a big deal to me.

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Newbie Author

Be A NovelistThe second incident happened three or four years ago. I had been content editor and proofreader for a client who had written his very first book. Once he had the print edition of his book in his hand and was fanning through it, he asked me, “How do you sign your autograph? Whole name? First and last name only? And where? I don’t know how to do this. It’s all new to me.”

Something that one might think goes without saying, needed an answer. Needed an explanation.

I took the time to explain how I did it and told him to relax. That there were no right or wrong ways to sign your autograph.

Appreciate the Article

I mentally apologized to the author of the article for laughing, and then took the time to read it and to appreciate the information presented there.

The only element that was missing in the informative article would have been a note to those of us who are left handed. Do you Be A Novelistknow how difficult it is to wrestle with a newly published book to hold it open with your left hand, while writing with your left hand. Argh! Not easy. (Those who are not of our sort would never even think of it.)

Be that as it may, I still love signing autographs. And I guess I always will. Such a fun part of being an author.

And kudos to the author of this article. You can catch it right here.

Oh and by the way, in the last paragraph of the article it does allude to a wrong way to sign autographs. Sorta. Kinda. You can read it to see what I mean.

PS: You will notice in all of the photos in the article, not one of those doing the signing is left-handed. More’s the pity.

 

Be A Novelist

Be A Novelist

Be A NovelistThe Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection now has three 3 available titles:

Flower in the Hills, Tiger Beetle at Kendallwood, and Rockin’ Into Romance

These clean teen reads, while authored in the past, offer timeless story lines that teens love.

 

Be A Novelist