the final chapter

I don’t know about other writers, but for me, the very end of a book is murder.  And not in the fun, I-write-murder-mysteries-&-get-to-kill-off-a-different-character-in-every-other-chapter way, either. :crazy

You know that joke about “every time I think I’ll make ends meet, someone up & moves the ends”? That totally applies to my writing process!  Every time I get near The End of a story, someone always seems to come in & move it farther away.  Without fail, the “last chapter” of whatever I’m working on takes me at least a month, maybe more.  And that’s a month more than I’m expecting or have planned for—for what I think should only be one lousy chapter!

Unfortunately, what I know just has to be my “last chapter” usually stretches out into two, three, even four more.  This time around, with the end of MUST LOVE VAMPIRES, I think it was more like five or six.

I don’t even know how that’s possible, except that I’m apparently not a very good judge of how much space it takes to wrap things up.  Which probably shouldn’t be too surprising, since I’m not very good at guessing how many gumballs are in a jar, either.  Could be six, could be six million; I have no concept of age or numbers. :ouch

Or maybe I ramble a little too much, finding a way to turn a nice, succinct three-scene chapter into more like ten.  Of each.

Now, considering that I tend to be a “short” writer—& no, I’m not talking about my diminutive height, thankyouverymuch—that’s probably a good thing.  It gives a little more meat to stories that would otherwise come in under my required word count.

But still, every single time I near the end of a book, those last hundred pages sneak up & knock me for a total loop.  I can see The End in sight…I can feel that I’m going to be done soon…I think they’ll whiz by & I’ll have the book done in another week or two, tops.  Ha!  It’s like slogging through quicksand or running in place—no matter how fast or how much I write, I never seem to make any headway.  And how those last hundred pages manage to turn into a thousand, I’ll never know, but it certainly feels that way.  Every. Single. Time.

So take my word for it.  It is much, much easier to know for sure when you’ve only got a hundred more pages of a book to read :cantputdown than when you think you’ve only got a hundred more pages of one to write! :smash

Me & guess-timating? Not a good mix, whether we’re talking word count or gumballs. :faint


11 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Laura J says:

    Good for us, but bad for you, right?

    Question: How will that effect your edits? Do they come back and tell you to cut parts out or do they really care as long as it adds to the story?

    • Heidi says:

      It shouldn’t effect the edits at all, since the “last chapter” that goes on for about 6chs *snork* is all stuff that needs to be there. It’s not extraneous fluff just tossed in to make the book longer.

      I guess what I was trying to say is that I always think I have “x” amount left to accomplish in a story…things that need to be done & said, loose ends to be tied up…& I think it will take me about one chapter to get that done. But then I think of more things & more things & the dialogue goes on & one…so “x” somehow turns into “x, y, z, plus some.” LOL

      • Laura J. says:

        That is good to know! I was afraid they would make you take stuff out and one thing I really like about your writing is I feel we get the whole story. I hate when I feel a story is unfinished and my thought is (now that I understand a little more about the process) that some editor said that they had to cut some stuff out so it would “fit” within a certain number of pages (or whatever excuse they decide to use).

        • Heidi says:

          That’s one thing you don’t need to worry about with me. I love a HEA as much as the next person & usually provide a nice wrap-up or even an epilogue, whether it’s necessary or not. :heehee

  2. mary k says:

    It really interesting to read what an author goes through in order to get a book published. Just writing the book is hard enough.

    • Heidi says:

      Tell me about it. Sometimes I look back & have no idea how I go from A to B. Even when I’m going thru copy edits or galleys, I’ll be really impressed with the story…but I don’t remember writing most of it. :question

  3. Michelle Marcos says:

    If you’re like me, you’re probably just trying to avoid succumbing to the post-partum depression following The End. While my literary baby is in my laptop, it’s safe. But once it’s out, it has to face the big, bad world on its own. I go from delivery to empty nest in one fell email to an editor.

    Fear not…once the baby is born, you can begin the process of making a new one!

    • Heidi says:

      LOL I feel pretty safe in saying that is *not* the case. For me, the closer I get to the end of a book, the more eager I am to just BE DONE. I think because I know how things are going to end, it’s all swirling in my head, & I just want to be there & have it over with already. (I’m kinda the same way when I read, too.) Then I can go back & appreciate the story as a whole, but at the end, I just want to get to The End! :smash

  4. Dee says:

    I really find it interesting how your process works. Now I can’t wait to read MLV even more!

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Dee. As I’m working on it, I’m trying to take note of fun facts & little bits of trivia to share as we build up to its release, so stay tuned. :cantputdown

  5. mary k says:

    I am definitely not that way when I read. If I get a book that is just ‘that’ good….I start reading slower towards the end because I don’t want the story to end…

    You know you’ve read a good book when you turn that last page and you already miss the characters.

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