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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I can feel the end of my fourth novel coming, it's maybe a week away. I am writing the final, climactic scenes and I'm afraid the work is starting to feel rushed and sloppy. How do ya'll slow yourselves down and quell the excitement that inevitably comes from finishing a lengthy work?
 

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I didn't get this far, just to screw it up in the end by rushing the last few chapters. I just keep reminding myself that the world will not end before I finish, there will still be readers who are willing to buy e-books, self-publishing is not going to collapse tomorrow, and making the end feel even just a hair sloppy in comparison to the rest of the book would mean that the readr's worst experience in reading the thing came right at the end, the part he'll remember most. No, the ending has to be perfect. (or, as close to perfect as I can possibly make it)
 

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As I sense the end coming, I secure my helmet flaps and lower my goggles.  I rip my chute's rip cord and prepare for a fast landing.  One boot touches ground, then the other--the heels bursting into flame.  But, hey, I can take it.  It'll be quite a while before I start another novel and re-heel my boots.
 

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Write it just the way you feel, then put it away for a month. Go back to it when you feel your energy return and read the draft from the beginning, as if you were a reader, and then you'll see what crap needs to be fixed. It can be a humbling experience! But it works.
 

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I actually only have this problem about 1/3 of the time. The other parts I slow down because I'm afraid I messed things up or the ending is horrible :-\
 

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Mathew Reuther said:
That's what rewrites are for. Finish it, then fix it. Throw notes in brackets for later if you need.
Yes, that's what revisions are for! I find, upon re-reading, that it's not as much of a hot mess as it seemed during the drafting. Your mind plays tricks on you. That's your fear telling you you're doing something wrong. ;)
 

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Dalya said:
Yes, that's what revisions are for! I find, upon re-reading, that it's not as much of a hot mess as it seemed during the drafting. Your mind plays tricks on you. That's your fear telling you you're doing something wrong. ;)
*nods*

Fear is the mind killer.
 

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swolf said:
Page brakes.

*rimshot*
You are a funny guy.

Do you guys ever have issues with a novel that doesn't want to end?
 

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MommaSaysRead said:
Do you guys ever have issues with a novel that doesn't want to end?
Not with a novel, but I had this with a novella once. I had passed the climax and was trying to close it out on a hopeful note, with a line of dialogue, but it resisted me and I couldn't close it no matter what angle I came at it from. Eventually it occurred to me that the ending hadn't been earned. Looking back over the story, the bones were fine but that was all it had; I was jumping from plot point to plot point and the ending was just as rushed. It was then that I realized the story needed to be longer, much longer, and I started over as a full novel. The novel saw some plot points and characters the novella didn't, and covered everything fully enough to come to a proper close.

If this is happening with a novel, the first question is: How long is it? We've had recent discussions about story length and why reviewers sometimes say a book is too short. By no means should any story be padded with meaningless fluff to buff it out, but perhaps being unable to come to an ending is a sign that, like me, you're staring at a story without enough meat on its bones. Was everything fleshed out enough? Adding muscle after the fact is challenging, but it might be just what the doctor ordered.

The alternate problem is that, like Tolkien, you're facing a situation where you can see the future development of these characters and just don't want to let them go. Sometimes an epilogue can help in this respect.
 

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Having sold both books [26] and screenplays [20], I find it sometimes simpler to look at a typical film structure and keep that in mind when writing a book. Films are in 3 acts and take about 25% of act 1, 50% of the typical 2 hour movie in act 2 and the remaining 25% in act 3.

So the setup of a film and the 3rd act to bring all the loose ends to a conclusion are about the same length, 60 minutes which is about 60 pages of screenplay length. With that in mind I use this formula to be sure the book doesn't very too much from this plan. When writing a book, the first act always seems to go slow and the third act too fast but when I look back on it all it's always about right. Clearly when writing a series you have additional obligations at the start of the next book to link up the reader with what they need to know before going into the book itself.

So all these are approximate but when you read a book or see it through a film that varies widely from this formula you start to feel like something is dragging or you've been manipulated by the writer. The others have offered some good ideas to help avoid these pitfalls.
 

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Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

Actually, I always find that the final battles are much faster to write. And I think it's okay for them to be more "bare-bones" (as someone earlier described) as battles require faster pacing. But that's just me.
 

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I'm bogged down at the end of my latest novel, Sorcerer, thinking of an appropriate climax. Perhaps I should just continue writing and hope my characters do the heavy lifting for me. I feel a little guilty doing so, but it has worked in the past.

 

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I guess this won't help if you haven't done it this way already, but I seem to feel compelled to write the ending when I am about halfway through.  I get too nervous that I'm building up to a climax that just won't um, climax, otherwise.  So when I'm finishing the first draft the last thing I write is at about the 80% point.  It always feels a little wierd to say, "I'm done," when it's not the end.  Good Luck.
 

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brendajcarlton said:
I guess this won't help if you haven't done it this way already, but I seem to feel compelled to write the ending when I am about halfway through. I get too nervous that I'm building up to a climax that just won't um, climax, otherwise. So when I'm finishing the first draft the last thing I write is at about the 80% point. It always feels a little wierd to say, "I'm done," when it's not the end. Good Luck.
By the time I'm halfway through I need to see where it's going, but I don't necessarily have to know how it'll get there yet. But in the past this has failed when I passed the climax and still couldn't close it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
brendajcarlton said:
I guess this won't help if you haven't done it this way already, but I seem to feel compelled to write the ending when I am about halfway through. I get too nervous that I'm building up to a climax that just won't um, climax, otherwise. So when I'm finishing the first draft the last thing I write is at about the 80% point. It always feels a little wierd to say, "I'm done," when it's not the end. Good Luck.
Wow! I never thought of that before. Of course much of this discussion revolves around genre. One of the best historical fiction authors of all-time, Conn Iggulden, says that he will never write the first word of a novel before he knows the last one.

Conversely, Stephen King (thrillers, horrors) abhors planning because he doesn't want his characters and scenes to lose their vibrant, spontaneous feel.

I've got just one or two more scenes left and I keep telling myself, "You can finish next week. Or next month. Or whenever the right words come."

I've also told myself, "EDIT, EDIT, EDIT!"

Thanks ya'll for the thoughtful responses!
 
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