Friday, 2 April 2010

And they all Lived Happily Ever After

Please help yourself to an egg before I scoff the lot - I'll stick with coffee this morning.

Yesterday I read a post at The Rejector which happened to mention that their agency rejects a lot of requested manuscripts because they don’t like the endings. They state “it’s surprisingly hard to bring a book to a good ending,” which surprised me as personally I loved writing mine!

When I started my novel I had a very clear idea of how it would finish and found it really exciting to work towards, even though I wasn’t sure what would happen on the way. Once I'd got into in my stride I enjoyed writing the middle bit too - the filling.

For me it was the beginning I struggled with. I felt like I couldn’t get the tone quite right and kept going back and fiddling with it endlessly, but it was important to me to stick with it this time instead of giving up like I have in the past.

Someone wise once told me that writers who give up on their works-in-progress will have lots of practice at writing beginnings (and maybe middles) but not much at writing endings, and that advice really stuck with me.

So maybe it was relief at finally getting there that made me relish being able to bring everything to a satisfying conclusion, but it made me wonder …

what are your weaknesses – beginnings, middles or endings?

Oh and Happy Easter!


Annieye said...

Not a single piece of chocolate has passed my lips since the beginning of February - and I've lost nearly two stone as a result. But I'm tempted ... oh ... perhaps I'll just have a coffee. Being 'not fat' (because I'll never be slim) is very enticing at the moment.

Middles are my weakness - a bit like my waistline actually! Like you, I always know exactly how my books will end before I start to write. The beginning gets tugged backwards and forwards as I grapple with what should be the beginning and whay should constitute back story. When I was in Caerleon, the tutor said writers should beware of waffling in the middle and filling in the story with weak sub-plots. She said the writer should always be aware that you need to keep the pace going with 'page turners' all the way through. I like the climax to my story to come a chapter or two before the end, so that the reader can have a glimpse of the future, and loose ends can be tied up. I think the final paragraph is difficult, though. I find it almost as difficult as the opening paragraph.

This is a really good post, Karen.

Sue Kittow said...

Unfortunately I can't eat chocolate so someone else can have my egg (sniff). Middles are my weakness too - I get all fired up at the beginning, but tend to lose my way a bit or get distracted. Mind you right now I' wondering about ALL of the last one.... Happy Easter all!

Sue Kittow said...

BTW Sue Kittow is flowerpot in case you're wondering who the interloper is. For some strange reason, having set upa work blog, I can't sign on as Flowerpot any more.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Hmm. Middles are my foible. Sometimes they go off at tangents to the plot, or stuff themselves with pointless conversation.

Cathy said...

The middle was the hardest for me too as I'm not a rigid planner and it's easy to lose control of it all. Having said that, I also found the start of my novel very hard and got completely stuck at 10,000 words because I knew it wasn't working!

JJ Beattie said...

Great post Karen and thanks for the offer of chocolate.

I'm just going through my first draft and honestly I think it's all a mess. I knew how it started and how it would end but I'd got NO idea what would happen in the middle so I guess that will need most work.

Happy Easter to you all.

Chris Stovell said...

Middles here too - you don't have the impetus of the beginning (mind you, I seem to end up changing the beginning half-way through the book too) or the thrill of finishing. The real danger point though seems to be about a third of the way into the book which is the point at which I've often given up in the past. Happy Easter everyone (falls on chocolate gratefully).

HelenMHunt said...

I'm being good about chocolate as well, so I'll avert my eyes.

I think I found the end the easiest to write as by then I did know what was happening which I hadn't at the beginning and for most of the middle.

The beginning was hard when I went back to rewrite it once I did know what happened at the end.

I'm now faced with a huge rewrite though, and I think it's *all* going to be hard. Sigh. Sometimes I wish I was eating chocolate ...

Debs said...

I'm desperate for chocolate, but am determined to wait until Sunday, so will have to rafrain for the time being. Well done to Annieye, I'm seriously impressed.

Endings are so difficult to get right, as are beginnings and middles of course, but it's the final page that I tend to faff about with for ages.

Denise said...

At the moment it's definitely the ending for me. I have about 5 different ones at the moment, because I keep changing my mind about how happy it's going to be, and whether or not I'm going to kill anybody off in a fire!

I used to find middles hardest, but I did a lot more planning for this novel, and it means I've got enough going on for once to keep it all moving at a pace. As for the ending, should I let the baddie get it? I still can't decide.

Ooh, easter eggs, yes please!

CC Devine said...

Sadly I'm unable to control myself around Minieggs so I may scoff them all - be warned!

Well done Annie - two stone is very impressive!

Middles are my weakness. I'm clear on the beginning and ending but not always so sure of or successful with the inbetween bit. I'm guilty of pacing problems or not having enough tension. A major headache has been the character arc for the main protagonist. I'm really struggling with it at the moment.

Fia said...

Beginnings are scary. So much rides on them and it's only recently I learnt that womens fiction can take a slower set up than say, crime or thrillers.

Thanks for the picture of Easter eggs. Is this your dinner for the week:)

I ate an Easter I bought for a friend's child and have had to buy another. Isn't that shameful?

Fia said...

I didn't actually eat Easter. That would be too weird and probably illegal/immoral too.

liz fenwick said...

Averting eyes from the tempting but not allowed.

I always know the beginning and the end and the middle well fills itself out somehow. Thus far each book has provided a different problem - although thus far the beginning has never been in doubt but i think this too will have its moment in the trouble spotlight :-)

Well done on the weight loss Annie.


Sylvia Phoenix said...

Those Easter eggs look very tempting but I'm trying to avoid putting on the two stone that Annieye has so successfully lost.

My beginning is well-established, the middle is plotted but has many uncertainties, and the ending - though not yet written - is clearly defined. Or is it? I'll come back to this point, but first a little digression...

I'm pretty happy with my beginning and I don't want to change it unless I have to. The middle is proving tricky but also very interesting. I've planned what I want to write by making an outline. The trouble is, my characters keep going off and doing things I didn't expect them to do. Which is fine - I rather enjoy that part of my writing - I'll just have to remember to keep my outline up to date.

My current problem is lack of back story for my characters. Some more back story might help the plot as well. I'm in a bit of a muddle as to how to go about writing this in. I have several possibilities but can't decide which method to go for. Any ideas? You can leave a comment on my blog if you want to.

I think good endings are vital. There's nothing worse than enjoying a book and then being let down by a weak ending. I'm told that all the plot lines need to be wrapped up, the characters need to achieve their goals (or not, if that's intended) and everything needs to be concluded. I can only think of one situation where things might be left open: if you're going to write a sequel.

I've never tried this but I imagine that if you're writing a two (or more) part series, then you have to have a strong enough ending for each volume but enough of a hook to keep your readers itching to read the next one. Have any of you had any experience with this?

This was a really good topic and quite relevant to me at the moment, so thanks Karen.

ps. Happy Easter and sorry that was a bit long.

Lane said...

I'd like to give that little Cadbury's chick a good home if he's not already spoken for. Thank you.

My middle is very saggy and it's a direct result of not enough planning, as well as pfaffing around for too long and losing the momentum. I think there's something to be said for writing a rough draft of the ending first> so you have something to work towards - for me anyway.

Happy Easter everyone. Saggy middles are allowed, right?

Serendipity said...

I did plan to buy twelve Easter eggs to get me round to next Easter - one a month - but felt far too embarrassed at placing so many in my shopping trolley! Decided to make a couple of trips -I wasn't going to be deterred!

Problems with the middle definitely - eager at the beginning and excited at the end - which means the middle filling chapters just seem to go wayward, lose momentum or get lost altogether!