Sunday, 18 December 2011

The end is nigh...

No, this isn't a cry for help.

It's about what's known to be the toughest thing for a writer to complete when working on a novel.

The end.

I once saw a really interesting tweet from a literary agent who was working their way through a slush pile where they made a public complaint about how authors never seem to be able to get the ending right.

It's a bit of a weird one. With Driving Exile, I had the ending planned right from the start, before I even had most of the plot in place so, for me, it was writing the middle of the book and still managing to keep the momentum going that was the challenge. The most taxing decision I had to make was whether I went for the cheesy ending or the super cheesy ending. My reading panel opted for just the cheesy one (apart from the out-voted Uno who likes her books with a large chunk of cheddar).

I'm now drawing the Side Project to a close and writing the last few scenes. I think it'll still take me several solid days of writing so it will probably be complete over Christmas some time and because I've written it in sequence, I'm now feeling the apprehension of writing the ending.

You see, with the Side Project, I do have a very clear ending in my mind which is great. But it's Well, for one character it is anyway...The problem is that I've now grown close to all of the characters and I'm starting to get cold feet about it.

I think this stems from my lame-ass phobia of saying goodbye to people...

I know what I need to do but bloody hell, the feeling of responsibility is bearing down on me. I was up until one o'clock in the morning last night, no mean feat for someone who's full of a cold and I just sprang awake at seven thirty after dreaming about my characters. It was one of those cliched dreams (well, it is in Emma land anyway...) where someone is shouting my name from a different room and I can't get to them. I could see them all through a window but I couldn't reach them. My heart actually sank when I clapped eyes on the character who's going to meet a rather sticky end and I felt like a murderer.

I might as well have been dressed as the Grim Reaper, clicking my fingers at the poor soul and shouting, "Come on, love. You're with me."

I'm also finding that the end of my book and the unfolding of the 'mystery' in the plot has had to be moved along by dialogue between the characters. There are no huge chunks of descriptive texts or massive mind monologues from my lead character. No, just a hell of a lot of conversation as they all figure out what's going on in their creepy town.

It's times like that, when I read back over what I've written, where I wonder whether my strength is in scriptwriting rather than novels. You end up running out of ways to make 'he said, she said' sound interesting and new.

So, now I'm worried that a literary agent might think the same about the Side Project. Is the ending already weak before it's even completed? I suppose that's what several rounds of editing is for....

That'll probably be me over Christmas, sitting there with a red pen and trawling through the Side Project while I make a New Year's Resolution to get Driving Exile in front of more agents.

Soon I'll have two books doing the rounds. Then what?

Actually, I've been thinking that I might dive straight into Side Project Part Two...

Jesus Em, shut up and concentrate on your ending.

One thing at a time and all that.

I think this rambling blog post serves nothing but to prove the point that I struggle to end things.

And say goodbye.

Wish me luck,



For my Side Project characters...


  1. Just found your blog and will be working my way through it. It must be so hard to write a book and then have to try and get a publisher to publish it. I asked an author if she found it hard to make bad things happen to her characters and she said she loved it! ha ha, I suppose you have the power then.Good luck with your books but don't let them keep you awake remember you have the power not them.

  2. Hi Emma! Thanks for the Twitter follow. Just swung by to say hello and good luck with all your writing projects. I know how you feel about the submission process - mine is ongoing. Have you had your work peer-reviewed at all? I found amazing help from writer colleagues at Litopia - don't know if you've heard of it. If you are interested in more info, feel free to email me. All best, Charlotte