Monday, April 25, 2011

On Typing THE END.

You might have noticed that I've been rather scarce around here for the last few months.  Here's one reason:

This means that I work at a plant nursery, and spring is our equivalent to the Christmas season. 
But here is the the main reason:

This is Siria Nightingale.  She's the protagonist in my WIP, and she's done a fairly good job of keeping me singularly occupied since December.  Turns out, her story was one of those utterly consuming ones that doesn't let you rest until you've sat your little self down and told it in full.  But here's the good news: Today I typed the words, THE END at the bottom of Siria's word document.  This means I can relax a little bit, because revisions are not quite as consuming as first drafts tend to be.

But that brings me to the main point of this post.  I have a few questions for you all.  

If you are a writer, here's your question:

When you type THE END, what does your next step tend to be?  How do you personally approach the massive undertaking of revising, editing, and polishing your manuscript?  Do you use beta readers?  And if so, how do you find them, and what do you ask them to do?

And if you are a reader, here's yours:

What do you expect out of the ends of books?  What has made you feel most satisfied when you close the back cover of a book, and what makes you want to open the front cover right away and read it all over again?  How do you feel about cliffhanger endings?  In a series, what kind of ending makes you ache with satisfaction, even knowing that you have more books to read before you know the whole story?

Please share!  I have loved hearing your responses to previous questions, and I find the variety of opinions fascinating.  Happy Monday to you all!


  1. Congrats on typing the end! That's always such a great feeling. It's a little scary, too. I usually approach the next phase by taking at least a week off. It helps me get my brain clear so I can have a better idea of what I need to do. My next phase is to read through the entire thing and make notes using track changes-- I basically critique my own book. It gives me a list of things to work on. I usually focus on big things first, like restructuring plot elements or adding and removing characters.

    And as a reader, I like the MAIN story question, and at least a few of the side plots, tied off. I'm fine with a cliffhanger as long as that main storyline is emotionally satisfying.

    Good luck! I hope your revisions go well.

  2. Yay!

    As a writer I let it sit for a while. Otherwise I will scream.

    As a reader, I have to have closure but an open ending where I know the characters will go on.


    Now, about the question...

    I don't type 'the end' I write it... because I write everything longhand first. Which brings me to the editing part of the question. Usually, when I finish with a first draft, I'll take only a little break, like one night at the most, and then I'll begin transcribing the story to my computer. Because I'm not one to obsessively go back and reread my story from start to finish while I'm still writing it, this means that by the time I've finished writing it, I haven't seen the beginning in a while. So when I begin transcribing, I also begin the first overhaul edit. Once it's transcribed, I'll send it to beta readers for their first thoughts.

    This has always worked well for me because I've always got something in the fire. I just finished a retelling, which I'm now transcribing and will soon send off, while at the same time, I'm working on finishing another WIP which I'll then start transcribing while waiting to hear back from the betas on the retelling.

  4. Woop woop, you're done (kind of)!

    As a reader, I like the end to be a tying up of lose ends. If it's a series, obviously there will be a cliffhanger or sorts, but I want the plot to be somewhat closed. I want the characters to have discovered the things I've hoped they've discovered the entire book (whether it's about themselves, other characters or a part of the plot).

    I like a happy ending, but happy doesn't have to be what you would expect it to be. Like I said, I want there to be some finalizing thoughts and ideas and at least some hope. I need to have hope at the end :)

    Can't wait to read it!

  5. Shallee: Thanks! I love your feedback... that's almost exactly the approach I plan to take this time around with revisions. My weakness is to focus on the prose and forget the glaring and enormous plot issues that need to be changed. And then I have a nonsensical, but beautiful, storyline. :) And gosh, don't you just love track changes?

    Amie: You? Scream? No... I agree, though. Closure is essential, but a little carrot dangling in front of you never hurts either.

    Artemis: Thanks! And I'm impressed at your ability to multitask. I love the idea of longhand writing first (that was how I wrote my first book), but I get so impatient that I want my fast typing fingers to get working instead. But I think that's a great strategy. It's much easier to simply write when you don't have a delete button. Best of luck with your two new ones!

    Ash: Yep, kind of. :) And I agree with you wholeheartedly. Closure, and most of all, HOPE. We've got enough hopelessness in the world as it is. Books give us something to cling to. Remember Scheherazade? In the Arabian Nights? "People need stories more than bread itself. They tell us how to live, and why."

    Thanks for your thoughts, all! I love your opinions!

  6. Chiming in here with a late opinion. I generally dislike cliffhanger endings. There are two main reasons for this: 1. if the book is not part of a series already, I feel unfulfilled and 2. if it IS part of a series, and the next book isn't already in my possession, I can't think of anything else until i have read all the books available. This is destructive to my home life, and exactly what happened to me when i read The Hunger Games. As always, I say take the Harry Potter approach: each individual storyline tied up neatly at the end, but with he over-arching struggle lurking subtly in the background.

  7. WWJD.

    What would Jo (Rowling) do?

    I love it, Katie. "As always, I say take the Harry Potter approach..."

    Also, I love your reasons for objecting to cliffhangers. You're a funny one.