Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The eight stages of writing an ending

A couple of months ago, former literary agent Nathan Bransford posted on his blog this amusing rundown of the nine stages of dating a novel.

This week, I find myself sitting only four chapters from the end of my second draft, about to dive headlong into the climax of the whole novel, and slightly wetting myself in fear. What if it's not right? What if everyone hates it? What if... what if... Oh, wait- I actually have to write it first...

Anyway! Over at CompuServe, several of us are getting to the end at the same time, and we've been having a vigorous discussion about writing endings. As part of that, I did my own list- the eight stages of writing an ending :) Enjoy.


OMG, there it is. Right there, the end of my novel. I'm here. I've made it. Just a few more chapters and it's all finished.


Squeeeeeeee! Endingendingending!!!


This is going to be the best ending EVER. I totally ROCK. Holy moses, look at all those plots, subplots and themes coming together! GENIUS! I'm going to start clearing a space on my shelf for the Pulitzer/ Booker/ [insert appropriate accolade] right now, just to save myself some time later.


Oh wait, I actually have to *write* it. Right. Well, back to the keyboard. Hey, is that another Facebook notification? No, no, back to the ending. It was all so brilliant when I thought of it; how come it's not just... you know. Already there on the screen, just like I imagined? Don't tell me I have to do something to make this happen...


Whoa, this all looked like a good idea before I wrote that first 53 words. And now... well, it... it kind of... sucks...


It looked good. Now it doesn't. I hate it. They'll hate it. Readers are going to start bonfires with my books- WITH MY BOOKS! I'll have to throw it all out. But I have to write it first. But I don't know where to start. I did yesterday. Now I don't. Maybe my brain is dying. OMG MY BRAIN IS DYING.


*Firm slap to the cheek* I just have to knuckle down, shut up, and write. One word after another; there, not *so* hard, is it? One...word...after... another...


I'm done. Please hand me that bottle of gin immediately while I sob for hours.


And after that, onward to the final draft for me :)


  1. Love it! I'm still at stage 2 of the 'dating stages' with my WIP, I may never, ever, ever, ever get to the end of a novel......

  2. I flipped through my story today trying to find a blog post-worthy snip and now I'm more discouraged than ever. I'm at #5 for the whole dang novel.

  3. Ha! I went through all those stages, and I must be edging into the relief stage now (although there's still that imp I shut in the closet wringing its hands, emitting worried squeaks that I flopped this time).

    I'll be writing the last words of my novel (aside from a final polish before I offer it up to my agent) today. Doing something I've never done before and ending it with a short letter from a character who gets a lot of mention in the story, but has never been on stage. I put it off as long as I could because I wasn't sure I could hear her voice, but once I finally dove in yesterday she had me blubbering over my keyboard. I guess that's good.

    I'm one of those writers who will jump ahead and rough out the final scene/s whenever they come to me. In this case it was about 2/3 of the way through, writing linear. That hasn't always happened. It's comforting when it does.