Thursday, August 10, 2017

Go away, ending. I'm not ready.

First this happens, then that, then this, then that.

It's logical, event following event. Consequences and all that.

But life doesn't work that way.

The best example is, we've all had the experience of a practice dialogue in our minds, exactly what we were going to say to another person, and imagining that person's response, and then our response to their response. All very logical and orderly.

So how did that work out?

In fiction, you have the luxury of doing exactly what you imagine. But if you do, then you become way too predictable, too easy a solution, too pat an answer.

I learned a trick a long time ago. In dialogue it is sometimes good to throw in a non-sequitur on purpose. Usually, I come up with two pieces of a conversation and instead of transitioning them, I simply put them together. Amazing how often that works.

Just as in, when writing scenes the temptation is to over-transition. Spend time trying to logically connect the dots. Sometimes, though, you should just let the reader make the jump with you. You can trust them, most of the time.

When editing, people see these gaps, these illogical things, and they naturally point them out. You have to be careful not to smooth everything out. Not everything needs to be perfect. If the story goes sideways on you, most of the time that's good.

Especially endings.

So I'm coming up on the ending of "Takeover." Hit 55K words yesterday, and the plot as I've figured it out will probably take me to between 60 and 65K words.

Then the ending. Which I haven't thought through. In fact, I haven't thought about it at all. Oh, I can catch glimpses of the logical conclusion, the pat answer, and I'm trying hard not to let that climax form into solid words.

I want to let the subconscious come up with something unusual, something I don't expect, therefore the reader won't expect.

Often these type of ideas come in the state between awake and nodding off. Little wisps floating by and one will kind of materialize for a moment and say, "how about me?" and then drift on by. Some of my best ideas come this way, and I think it's because they aren't logical--like dreams--they may even have nothing to do with the story at hand, but my mind seizes on them, that little wisp, and says, "how could this work? what does this mean?"

So I'm actively fighting even thinking about the ending except in these very general terms. "Go away!" I cry whenever a thought passes through. As long as I don't glom onto them, it's still cool. The minute I let them crystallize, I'm doomed. 


Duncan McGeary said...

I actually have come up with a very risky idea. Unconventional, arty, if you will. It would probably ruin any chance of mainstream publishing, and would subvert the "thriller" status of the book.

But it would be so satisfying in an artistic way. Not sure how it would work practically, but thematically, it's bang on.

With the added bonus of being what would probably happen in real life.

But, like I said, an extremely risky choice.

It is so off the track, however, that I can probably write it and see if it works and still leave a more conventional ending as a possibility. In other words, it wouldn't stop on that kind of ending, or it might be melded together.

Dave Cline said...

Online distribution would allow you to write many different endings...

"Click here for something entirely different..."
"Click here for a satisfying if formulaic resolution..."
"Click here to be blown away..."

On dialog, I find that if you can skip every other reply, it speeds it up.

"How was your day?"
"Is that a stain on my new carpet?"
"The dog did it..."
"Pack your things, I told you no-more-pets!"
"Mom called, she said you had to keep me here no matter what."