To all who celebrate.
Wishing you a joyous ride and hoping all your life's revisions go smoothly.
Resolution OR The End!
You've put conflict into your story and your character has taken action, now the problem must be resolved. Every story should lead toward a natural resolution. This does not mean a happily ever after ending, but it needs to resolve the main problem/conflict through character growth and character's action, or how they face their problem.
A few Resolutions that DON'T work-along with suggested resolutions to the problem:
Wimpiness: The character faces the problem, but doesn't have to act to resolve it. If someone else saves our hero or heroine, the reader is left unsatisfied, most likely because the character arc was not achieved. Answer: Let the main character do the saving. Even if they have help along the way, the MC should be the one initiating the sequence of action leading up to the resolution.
Too Easy: The character must struggle to achieve a resolution. If victory comes too easily without enough struggle or suffering, the reader will be left with the feeling, so what? Answer: Throw an obstacle or two into the MC's way. This will build the tension in your story.
Predictable: While the ending must flow naturally from the story, making it too predictable results in boring reading. Throwing in a twist at the end, when skillfully accomplished, provides the reader with a rush. Don't you love it when you didn't quite see the end coming, but it makes perfect sense according to the clues the writer set up throughout the story?
Nothing Changed: If the character's journey changed nothing in the end, you risk reader disappointment. It takes a high level of skill to write a satisfying story in which the character is the same at the end as he was at the beginning. Even with a story where the character chooses not to change, there needs to be some growth in the character. Answer: Evaluate your character arc. What change does she need to make? What lessons does she need to learn?
A cliffhanger: Cliffhangers can be effective for chapter endings, but not so much for novel endings. Even if you are choosing to write a series based in the same world with the same characters, each book should end with a satisfying resolution. Everything doesn't need to wrap up neatly, but it should resolve the major problem of the book. Answer: Write the next chapter or scene after your cliffhanger.
Too Neat: Life can be messy and the resolution of your book can be a little untidy as well, and sometimes should be. Don't try to giftwrap up every little plot and subplot inside a shiny bow-tied box. Leaving things up to your readers' imagination lets them do a bit of their own work. Interactive is a good thing. Answer: Cut the bit you wrote to explain why Aunt Bessie didn't make the cake for the wedding-or whatever you included that isn't necessary to the satisfying ending of the book.
Some questions to ask yourself when you revise:
Does my character suffer/struggle before the end?
Have I included enough hints to the reader throughout where the story is going to end up (even if it is a surprise)?
Is there any place where I can increase the tension at the end?
Does my character change from the beginning of the story?
If you have any questions or comments please ask by commenting below or emailing me at email@example.com
Once you have completed your novel, revised it, and hopefully had someone edit it for you, it may be time to query agents. I advise you to search out successful query letters. A simple online search will yield a bounty of resources ready for study.
What is a query? A query is a cover letter introducing yourself and your work to a potential agent or publisher.
Parts of the query letter:
1. A hook of interest. Your opening should grab the interest of the agent/publisher.
2. Synopsis: Two or three paragraph summary of your story including your Main Character, her goal, and main obstacles. Don't give your ending away at this point. Include the interesting parts of your story that set it apart from other books out there.
3. Bio: A short summary of your publication history. If you don't have any publications yet, work on getting some. Submit short stories to publications to beef up your list. Keep the bio short, this isn't a time to tell your life story except as it pertains to the story you've told.
4. Make sure you include your word count (completed) and your genre.
DO Your Homework:
1. Complete your story BEFORE querying. Wouldn't you be disappointed if you hooked the interest of an agent or publisher and have to say you have yet to write this masterpiece?
2. Research agents/publishers to be sure they are reputable. Do not pay an agent any up front costs. They are working for you. Verify the agents you query publish your genre. Check and double check their guidelines and conform to them. If they want the first five pages, send the first five pages, not the first ten, etc. 3. Remember to be professional in your query and your correspondence with agents and publishers.
As always if you have any questions or comments I'd love to hear from you. You may comment here, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
The craziness that is NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is finished for another year. For everyone who participated during the writing frenzy to get 50K words in thirty days, I want to offer a heartfelt congratulations. You did what many only dream about doing.
If you crossed the 50K mark, you are a winner by anyone's yardstick! Well done. Some of you may be in this boat and are thinking, "What next?" Throughout this blog I will give you some tips on the next steps of your process. Stay tuned.
If you fall in the group of writers who started with high hopes, but didn't make it over the finish line, never fear, you tried, and whether you have 2K words or 20K or more, you have more words now than you had on October 31. You did what you could. Well done.
The Next Step
If you haven't finished your story (whether you passed the 50K mark or not) the next step is completing this draft. Conclude the story. Resist the urge to edit or revise your work at this point in your writing. As most writers will tell you, starting something is a lot easier than completion. Many writers have oodles of unfinished drafts. An unfinished draft won't go anywhere. Take what you learned about writing during the last month and keep on going.
For those who needed 50K to complete a novel--you arrived at the end of your story in 50K--the next step is to pat yourself on the back and put your work aside for a little while. Yes! You get a vacation--at least from this story. My suggestion is to start another project, short story, another novel, poem, or whatever your muse is urging you to write. You created some writing habits during Nano that you can now carry over into your writing life.
Whereever you find yourself at the beginning of December, good luck with your NEXT STEP.
is an author and editor. Her former career as an English teacher assists her to help others through editing services. She's available for workshops. See her Editing Services Page for details. Be sure to get updates by clicking the RSS feed below for continuing writing tips.