How do you get to THE END?

Since the New Year I have been grappling with the same draft. I have promoted a minor character and think I need to change the ending. I wonder, will drafting ever end?

A few years ago, my sister shared some advice that she lives by

“Start with the end in mind.”

It plays in my head all the time. It makes me wish I was better at making plans.

She and I are opposites, not unlike the two sisters in my work in progress, though real life as well as fiction is never clear cut.  My sister can be spontaneous and does crazy things like jump out of planes. I can do planning to the nth degree particularly in work life, using spreadsheets and everything. But I am trying to be more planned in my creative work too.

When it came this novel I started with an idea that’s been percolating for a long time. I let it develop at random in notebooks and then a year ago, I got out my son’s easel to plot the story out on post-it notes. I took what I had written already and started to work on the scenes that were missing. I plodded on steadily with this plan but somehow I still didn’t make it to “The End.”

To inject some life into the project I took a class on “Developing Your Novel” Others there were playing with the first few chapters. Meanwhile I had several sections written, acres of excess words and a big mess of mixed voices. And worst still, the ending kept changing.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hvc/2202706493
The Shadowy Figure inserting himself in my draft. Licenced under CC Helen Cook

We don’t know who is telling the truth in my novel. Or even what is real. Classmates said my work was “strange.” I love it! What I am realising though is most novels with ambiguity, probably have more careful plotting than those that don’t. So I really do have to decide.

When we started the class we answered questions to reflect how our novel fit the “Three-Act Structure.” It was actually quite easy to fill out my answers. I knew where she meets crisis, I knew what the final image was and I knew (probably) what voice it was written in. What I didn’t know was once I started tinkering with the work I had done to submit new scenes to the class, I would change my mind about certain characters. As a result I have pushed some more to centre stage.

So here I am, back to the blogging. Avoiding the fact that I have to choose. And probably before I get much further.

Maybe I will just let you choose your own ending? Thanks Netflix, that’s cool again now, apparently. Did you see they’re even going to make Kimmy Schmidt Choose Your Own Adventure?

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