Wednesday, August 11, 2010

When "Happily Ever After" Fails

Let’s talk endings. (I promise I won’t give anything away). Endings are tough. Don’t let anyone lie to you. They are.

A perfect ending, which I do not claim to have written, must deal with the main dilemma in the book. It should provide closure and resolution, but not too much closer and resolution. Are you confused yet? Don’t worry. It gets worse.

Because for the ending of a novel, there are actually a multitude of endings. There should be an ending for the action, an ending for the main characters, an ending for the other characters (every friggin’ character), an ending for the romance, an ending for the theme, and an ending for the emotional arc of the story.

As I said, endings are tough.

Which brings us to Academy 7.

My first draft was complete. I had spent a year and two summers writing the second one. It was almost finished. Until the last chapter.

At which point, nothing happened.

No progress.

I tried. I turned that chapter into three chapters. I introduced weaponry. I allowed a one on one face off against Yvonne (Yvonne really didn’t merit a one on one face off). I added. I cut. I blamed Dr. Livinski for talking too much. Nothing worked.

Finally I decided the book was finished. I had done my best. I was going to send it off to my critique group members and let the thing rest.

Having made this momentous decision, I went to take a shower. The water was warm; the shampoo smelled like strawberries, and I was finally free! When I remembered something: how the opening sentence of a book should encompass the entire story. I loved my opening sentence. “Aerin tried to ignore the bloodstain on the control panel of the fugitive.”

Really, it’s an awesome sentence.

And then suddenly I knew.

There I was with the water pouring down around me. And I knew that Aerin had to visit the fountain one more time.

So when “happily ever after fails,” I recommend a shower, with strawberry shampoo.


  1. Heh. That sounds like good advice. I find the best inspiration can come when you're standing in the shower or soaking in the bathtub. I don't know why it works, but it does (most of the time). :)

  2. Anne, I'm so glad to hear that at least one published author gets ideas in the shower too! Here, I thought I was weird for getting all my ideas in there...

  3. That's where most of my best inspiration comes too - but with coconut conditioner. :)

  4. Beth's hair smells like coconut shampoo!

  5. I strangely enough get inspiration while siting on a toilet. O.o
    I dunno know why...