Tag Archive - writing craft

Endings that Ruin Your Novel

Have you ever read a great book that carries you all the way to the end, and then the ending is so disappointing you feel cheated? I’ve felt that way many times, and usually it’s because the ending doesn’t fit the theme and story, or the characters behave so contrary to the way they’ve been portrayed that I just don’t believe it. On some occasions the author has been promising certain things, building up my anticipation, but when the moment comes, she breaks her promise and the ending falls flat.

I wonder if authors sometimes write these kinds of endings because they think they will sell more books or add more drama. One book that comes to mind (sorry if this offends anyone) is The Horse Whisperer, which I really did enjoy a lot. The premise and story line were great, the conflict throughout was believable, and the characters were engaging and full-dimensional. That is, until the ending. I suppose Robert Redford (who optioned, starred in, and directed the movie, from what I understand) disliked the ending too, for in the movie he came up with a new ending that really did work and was believable. I’m glad he did. I had one of those moments where I wanted to throw the book across the room while screaming, “Oh come on! You’ve got to be kidding.” Continue Reading…

The Not-So-Long Good-bye

Earlier in the year I covered some tips about creating scenes, and most particularly in discussion about your novel’s first scene. I mentioned that the first scene in your book carries a special burden, and if you’ve been faithfully following this blog, you’ll recall we spent a whopping five months on just your first scene! Now, as we approach the end of this year, with only nine posts to go to wrap up this year-long intensive look at writing the heart of your story, I want to shift from scene endings to ending scenes. Continue Reading…

Altering the Quality of Time in Your Novel

I don’t think I’ve said all there is to say about plot (no indeed), but I want to take a little detour here to talk a bit about something I love seeing done well in novels—and that’s altering the quality of time.

In a movie there are all kinds of techniques the director and film editor can use to speed time up and slow time down. That’s part of what I’m thinking about here. But I’m going to talk not just about the speed at which time seems to move but also the quality of time.

If that seems like an esoteric concept, it is. But I bet you can think of instances or moments when time has felt different. Not just when it slows way down (like when you’ve had an accident or when you’re waiting for a doctor to come into the exam room with your test results ) or speeds up (getting old, in general) but when it feels different. Do you have any idea of what I’m referring to? Continue Reading…

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