Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Words on Writing - When a Conclusion, Well..., Isn't a Conclusion

L. V. Gaudet is hosting this weeks discussion on Facebook’s Suspense/Thriller Writers group. http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2397748813&topic=17474 When a Conclusion, Well …, Isn’t a Conclusion At All By L. V. Gaudet © July 2009 There are so many things we worry about when we write a story; from turning that story idea from a twinkle in our eyes, initiating the beginning of the story, and right through to the final conclusion. We tease the idea, we taunt it. We wrap ourselves around our protagonist while luring out the antagonist to greater depths of debauchery, all to titillate the reader. We worry over every sentence, giving special attention to spelling, punctuation, and grammar. We urge the excitement to grow, bringing forth increasingly climaxing events until at last we reach that great ending, the conclusion. We worry over whether our story will be any good, whether anyone will like it, whether anyone will ever find it publication worthy. All this hangs on our shoulders, the great big monkey on the writer’s back, perhaps a member of that room full of monkeys reportedly able to get together and write the greatest novel of all time, until we finally reach that ultimate climax, the conclusion of the story. But what if that conclusion never comes? Do you pack away your pen and keyboard and go sulk with a bag of popcorn and old Lonesome Dove reruns? Give up? Spend months tormenting yourself over that anticlimactic conclusion that you simply cannot get right? What do you do when a conclusion, well …, simply isn’t the conclusion at all? Maybe what you thought was the conclusion is the wrong conclusion, or is really just a lead up to that real conclusion that simply won’t come out of its nice safe dark closet. Maybe you’ve pushed the envelope too far and are trying to actually write past the conclusion, pushing the story beyond its natural ending. ******** Myself, I have struggled for months with the conclusion to my novel The Men of Twelve. I have spent those months tormenting myself, banging my head on the keyboard on occasion (mostly figuratively), and tying my brain in knots trying to wrap it around that ever elusive perfect ending. I’ve had sleepless nights and fitful nights, replaying scenes and thoughts until that monkey on my back begs me to stop before I go mad. I’ve always had a picture in my mind of what that conclusion is supposed to be, but just can’t seem to draw it out and write those scenes that will wrap it up to that conclusion. Finally, while laying in bed attempting to read a book I simply couldn’t get into, at about a quarter to one in the morning, a thought leapt out of the dark recesses of my mind where stories come from and slapped me in the face. What if? What if what I was so convinced was the proper conclusion, simply, isn’t? What if? What if I lop all of that off the end and give it a nice clean ending where the main evildoer seemingly wins, seemingly murdering the character who the story somewhat revolved around, and causing her allies to descend on the castle in a fury of vengeance resulting in a great war? In this particular story I already know it cannot be told in one book alone. There is simply too much left unsaid, unexplained, and it has already surpassed 117,000 words, too long to likely be publishable. What if? What if what I was so certain was the perfect conclusion is, in fact, the beginning of book two? What if those scenes that simply refuse to peek out from the darkness and draw my novel to its conclusion simply aren’t meant to be? Of course, that would mean I spent months torturing myself, and the monkey on my back, for nothing. Because, that would mean the book is actually … (oh my, dare I say it?) done.

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