By Kim Cheel
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.
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?!
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 not, 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. We’ll be happy to help.