Three quarters through the novel. At this point, the end is in sight. The main character has her darkest moment, then the big climax, and it’s all downhill from there. Easy momentum, right?
Endings give me a lot of anxiety. Partly because it means I’ll soon be saying good-bye (at least until revision) to the characters and world, but mostly because I don’t have much experience with them.
Ten years ago, I was one of those writers-in-training who jumps from project to project, thought to thought, without properly finishing anything. I still feel like my endings often miss something. No idea what – the secrets of writing great endings are still beyond me; if I write one, it’s a fluke.
This also makes the final quarter of a novel some of the slowest, most agonizing writing from an already slow writer.
But I do know that from this point on, I can’t introduce anything new. No new characters of note, no new sub-plots, no new world building. (Not unless I edit in appropriate set-up and foreshadowing earlier in the book, but that can be a lot of work, so I’m ignoring that for right now.)
I have to keep reminding myself of this as I steer the ending toward where it needs to go. Because there’s more to the world that I haven’t been able to explore, or because another character would make this revelation easier.
But those are shortcuts – easy conveniences that are weak and lazy writing. Trust me: readers will know, and they will not be pleased. Using suddenly appearing, unsupported elements shows outright the “hand of god.” Also known as deus ex machina, and a cardinal sin in storytelling.
Exceptions, well, excepted. Of course.
Perhaps someday, I will be initiated into the secrets of writing proper endings. Until then, I cling to what little I know and remind myself every time I’m stuck (which is often) not to take the easy way out. I’ve already built all I should need. Now I just have to figure out how to use it.