It’s 6:30 on a Friday and I’m in college. I can hear the whoops and excited chatter in the common lounge of my friends and their friends. I’m sitting at my computer reminding myself that I had promised to finish this essay tonight so I could enjoy the weekend, but I’m only halfway through. Don’t get me wrong, the first half is amazing; the second half just doesn’t exist yet. My fingers fly faster across the keyboard and I struggle to make my point in my rush, but I don’t care. I just want it done.
How often have you agonized over the first half of a project and then realized you’re over halfway done and wanted to rush through that ending? It can’t be just me, can it? There is so much restraint in writing the “back nine” when all I want to do is finish! But the latter half of the book is just as important as the first half – and some may say it’s even more important.
Rushing can Lead to Disappointed Readers
I don’t want to read a book that rushes an ending, especially if the author has spent so many pages setting up the characters, the circumstances, and the conflict. I want to feel that I have to rush through it as a reader because I need to know how it ends, but I want to see that journey as well; I want to savour it as much as I savoured the development – even if I have to stay up late to finish it!
Remember season eight of Game of Thrones? That’s a perfect example of why you don’t want to rush an ending. As a fan, I knew the show had to end, but like that?! What about all those times the story ended with a dream. How boring! Don’t do that to your readers.
How to Avoid the Rush
So, how do you make sure you don’t rush the ending? As a semi-converted discovery writer, I feel compelled to mention an outline. Maybe you know the last line that will be said in your book or maybe you don’t, but that outline will help you move forward at the pace that you’ve established.
Have you considered the hero’s journey? What is the misguided belief that has driven your protagonist throughout the book? How have they overcome it? Remember that if your protagonist (if you’re writing fiction/creative non-fiction) or your ideal reader (if you’re writing non-fiction) has had this misguided belief a long time, and they’re not going to shed it overnight.
If you’re writing non-fiction especially, and the back nine of your book contains a solution or two, make sure that they are presented in a way that your reader can apply. There’s an old meme about drawing an owl in stages. Step one has the instruction: draw some circles and the size of circles you should make. Step two has the instruction: draw the rest of the owl. Do you see how useless that is to a person who still doesn’t know how to draw an owl? Don’t do the same to your readers! They’re reading your book because you’ve said you could help them.
Please don’t lose it in the back nine! Remember your reader, remember your outline, and make peace with your pace. If you need help with outlining or keeping you and your writing on track, reach out. I’ll be happy to help.
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