The End by David Lewis
Writers know The End is when you really begin. You write, write, write. Finally, you arrive at the magic words. The End.
Heralded by 33,110 rough-cut words, I've recently typed The End to my latest story for 'middle grade' children.
As a writer, you have probably at some time arrived at The End. And asked yourself: where do I go to from here?
For me, I sat in silence for a moment. Like a silent prayer.
I felt pretty chuffed. Wow, I've written another novel. I'm a writer. Double Wow. I peek at the beginning. The middle. A random chapter. Hmm. There's work to do. Lots.
Like that Seventies song by The Carpenters, We've Only Just Begun. This is the start of edit, edit, edit. And edit.
Does my story fall over in the middle? Will a reader care about the characters? The story itself? Will a reader want to keep turning the page? All the way to The End? Does every word earn its place? Will the story linger in hearts and minds long after readers close the book?
I'm searching for advice about what to do now I've arrived at The End.
Wonderful Australian children's writer Janeen Brian recently had this to say:
'I've let the first draft of my new children's novel 'go cold'. Yesterday I printed it out and ruled up my notebook to write down chapter summaries, comments about pacing, characterisation, seasons, confusions that arise, where to expand the text, where to tighten it, where dialogue should be added or reduced and ever on the look out for those 'telling' sentences, instead of 'showing'.
Her novels, like That Boy, Jack and Yong, reflect her passion for pace, structure and strong characters woven into very readable stories.
Another exceptional Australian writer, Garry Disher points to the emotional impact of a story in his excellent book, Writing Fiction.
Disher believes most readers prefer to be moved emotionally by the characters and plot.
'See if you can gauge the emotional pitch of your story or novel. It will fail to move readers positively if the characters are unappealing to begin with, or their experiences either too overwrought or too muted.'
His children's novel The Bamboo Flute moved me to tears.
Disher again puts into practice his advice on language, character and emotional connection with his brilliant new adult novel, Her. About an emotionally deprived little girl, struggling to survive abuse and poverty in the Australian Bush early in the 20th Century.
'She'd hug that dog for hours, all her life, if she were allowed to. If she couldn't be hugged or patted then at least she could do the hugging and patting.
It mended her.'
I've also taken to heart advice from author Colum McCann in his book, Letters to a Young Writer.
He uses the analogy of building a house:
'Now that you have a house–or an approximate one anyway–you will demolish a room here, add a turret there, rearrange a staircase down into the basement, reposition the chimney. Eventually, you will have somewhere you truly want to dwell.'
And he adds, '…the reader should feel comfortable in the structure, be it palace or hut or boathouse.'
In the end, it's what we as writers do to truly arrive at The End. And if our story is accepted for publication? Then we have only just begun.
That Boy, Jack, Janeen Brian, Walker Books Australia, 2013
Yong, the story of an unworthy son, Janeen Brian, Walker Books Australia, 2016
Writing Fiction, Garry Disher, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW 2001
The Bamboo Flute, Garry Disher, Angus & Robertson Australia 1992.
Her, Garry Disher, Hachette Australia, 2017
Letters to a Young Writer, Colum McCann, Bloomsbury, London 2017
Illustration by Ann Lewis
You can read more from our emerging author, David Lewis on his blog https://davidrlewisblog.wordpress.com