Friday, December 4, 2009

Breaking the Ending

As November is over, so is no-shave November. I am keeping up the growth until the beard party we're having--then who knows. I will be sure to post a "final" product though, so you may all laugh at my scantily clad chin.

In reference to the title, I finally did it. I broke the ending to my novel, Jumping Off Bridges. And it is a very good thing.

I've always heard that good writers "kill their darlings." I have done this. Without mercy. At least in other places. However, I've hung and clung to the ending worse than a sleeping bat clings to its roost. Funny thing is, I never looked at the ending as a darling. It's not that I was incredibly smitten with what I had written, but it was the ending I had envisioned when I first put my fingers to the keyboard.

I've mentioned before that this novel started with the intent of being a short story, a short story that I only had an ending for. Like most organic things, the story became a novella and the novella became a novel--yet I still had my ending in mind. I wrote the whole thing to write that last scene. While it was never my favorite part of the novel--I think that comes somewheres in the middle--it was what I had always intended and, thus, tried to make everything fit around. As any writer knows--novice or expert--forcing your story to do what you want and not what it wants causes catastrophic problems. This is what I've been doing for the last few revisions, this stuffing into my preconceived mold, and it is no wonder that I keep feeling like something just isn't right. It doesn't feel right because it isn't right. This is not the ending the story demands, but the one I've imposed, and it doesn't make sense.

So I've let it go. I've realized my intentions were foolish--especially when my novel told me time and time again what should happen at the end. I ignored my own words. I ignored the whispers of my prose--a very, very dangerous thing to do. But they finally erupted last night, punching through my half-sleep musings and screaming for me to quit booping around and do what they'd been telling me all along.

What's better? It won't take long to fix this either. Not only will it make my novel a zillion times better--and finally complete--it involves the rewriting of three scenes. Three. That's it.

It just goes to show that the smallest of tweaks can fix the biggest of problems, and reiterates the sound advice that a writer should listen to her story. It does not care what you, the writer, wants. Stories live their own lives; it is our duty to simply record them. We are their Tivo. And like all recording devices, the work comes out the highest quality it can be when we take the time to listen.

If you have any thoughts on this from your own writing, or advice you've heard, I'd love to keep this conversation going. I hope to gear this blog more and more towards my writing process and breakthroughs and blocks I have. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

1 comment:

Comfortably Numb said...

Couldn't have said it better myself man. Can't wait to read this thing man, can't wait. I can tell you I had the same issue with my novel and quite possibly the same exact revelation late one night where I "woke up" and realized the one thing I was doing wrong was not listening to the story. It may sound like some existential crap, but it is what it is.