Monday, January 3, 2011

Writing like this, it makes me realize that I don’t often write like this…extemporaneously, with little editing. When I write fiction, I spend at least twice the time in edits as I did getting the words on the page. And when it comes to the opening and closing of a story, multiply that time by about six.

Thinking over the submissions I’ve recently been reading, I wonder how many new writers realize the importance of endgame to a story. New writers often have ideas: creative, bubbling, bursting forth, spilling all over the page. They are ready to “see where the story takes them”—either because they have an amazing concept or because they saw/met/invented an fascinating character or situation. This is why so many new writers get rejected on a story they thought was a sure-fire bet: the story starts out running strong, but it peters out and ends either on a whimper, or (worse) goes exactly where you would expect it to go, with no surprises. To be a really great writer, you should go back to that first, impetuous draft after giving it a few days to breathe: see if it can be improved, and in particular, see if the beginning draws you in immediately, and if the ending still feels satisfying. How much time to you give to your ending? Is it nearly as much as you give to your opening? And yet, if a friend comes to visit, which do you recall--the way they said hello, or the last thing they did before leaving your place?

1 comment:

Townsend said...

So very true what M says. It reminds me of a couple of things Billy Wilder said (about film surely, but it applies nonetheless to stories) 1. If you're having a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act; 2. The third act must build, build build in tempo and actiion until the last event, and then-that's it. Dont't hang around.