Getting the basic idea for a novel is not too difficult. Novel ideas are a dime a dozen. I bet you have one yourself that you are dying to write? But do you know how it is going to end? And are you aware that The End is The End?
Of my eight (so far) published books, all except one started as a simple ‘idea’ But I now know that the idea is the easy part. And the second easiest things is starting to write.
That may surprise you, because maybe you’ve been sitting on your great idea, idling in neutral for too long.
So what’s keeping you from getting started?
Probably one (or even both) of two things:
- The marathon of writing the middle of the story
- Coming up with an ending that does justice to that great idea of yours
That’s the main reason why publishers seldom give out contracts and advances to first time novelists before they see entire manuscripts.
You may have the best novel idea since J.K.Rowling invented a diminutive wizard with spectacles, but until you prove you can bring down the curtain with a resounding thud, you stand no chance of getting a publishing contract.
So how do you ensure your story doesn’t fizzle when it should be delivering a thrill?
Keep the End in Sight the Whole Way
Don’t play the wishing game, hoping it will work itself out when the time comes. The End is The End and you need to know what it’s going to be before you begin writing.
How you plan for the story to end should play an important part in every scene and every chapter. It may change, evolve, grow as you and your characters experience the inevitable arcs, but never leave it to chance.
- So be generous with your readers: they have invested in you and your work. Give them a proper payoff.
- Make it unpredictable but fair. You want readers to feel they should have seen it coming (because you planted enough hints) but not feel hoodwinked.
- Never settle for second best. If you’re not happy with every word, scrub it until you are.
- If you have too many ideas for how it should end, don’t go for the cleverest or most cerebral – go for the heart.
- Rewrite it until it shines. And then rewrite it again. You’ll know when your novel is finished, when you go from making it better to merely making it different.
Nothing Can Follow the End
This goes without saying. But I’ll say it anyway, because too many beginners think it’s sophisticated to leave things unclear or floating, or they want to save something crucial for an unecessary epilogue. Avoid that mistake. Modern readers raised on television and movies like things to be chronological – beginnings, middles, and ends. They expect the end to do its job.
The End is The End – remember that