Editing Tip #64

Wrapping Up Your Endings ~

poorly wrapped giftOther than the first chapter, endings are the next most talked about focus for writing advice. Here are my two-cents worth on the topic.

1) Know Your Market

2) Pace Yourself

3) Leave Some Mystery.

Know Your Market:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you need to know the expectations for your genre before you make any final decisions about your book. If you write non-serial romance then this ribbon is generally wrapped up pretty tight at the end. If you write serial mystery… perhaps the strings look good but are actually pretty loose when you go to shake the box. Regardless, these are important things to know before you finish your book.

Pace Yourself:

This is the heart of today’s advice – Don’t tie up all your loose ends in the same chapter. Just don’t do it. Even if you’re writing romance the key to keeping your audience interested is finding out what happens next. If you have too many things going on in the last chapter (or two) then conclusions can get confusing or you run the risk of disappointing your reader for no taking enough time. Small mysteries about a character’s past, their core motivation for doing something early on that was never explained, or why the room is painted burgundy should be answered at different times throughout the body of your work. One or more subplots can end mid-way or 2/3rds of the way through the novel with the main plot getting all the glory in the last chapter(s). It’s like an apple being dropped in front of the horse… he keeps working to get the apple because it’s so much juicier than the carrot he just finished.

Leave Some Mystery:

It doesn’t matter what you write – don’t make the ending 100% tied up in a perfect bow. You should allow your reader room to help you write the story. Even if you only leave it open that the hunky hero loves the heroine’s long red hair but she’s thinking of cutting and dying it all throughout the book, and then her last thought is maybe to go blonde and give a cocky twinkle to her eye… you’re letting the reader decide if she’ll actually go through with it or not. But beware, you don’t want to leave too much open at the end, especially if you’re writing a one-off. Answers to open questions, to the mystery, should be implied through clues that are left via the narrator or the characters. That way, even if a reader doesn’t figure it all out the first time around, she’s still satisfied that the main action has been taken care of… and perhaps, you just might get a second or third read out of her on the same book to look for the clues she senses that she missed during the first read.

Depending on how far along you are with your manuscript an edit of this magnitude (1st draft content edit) may take some significant re-working in order to get just right. Know that in the end, it’s all worth it to wrap this gift up just with the right balance of bright paper and twine 🙂

Happy Editing!

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Categories: Editing

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