Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Malignantly Menacing & Maiming My Manuscript

How I visualize my poor, maimed manuscript.
The things we do to the characters we love...

I am almost fished with my first novel. Okay, I've been almost done for awhile. I'm stuck on the ending. In fits of frustration, I have resorted to attacking the finished chapters. Rearranging events, rewriting whole passages and killing off my MC in epic apocalyptic events I already know he overcomes.

I'm mad at it, him and each carefully thought out scenario. I've deleted, only to frantically click 'undo'. Countless paragraphs have alternate outcomes and events written underneath, to the extent it could be a choose-your-own-adventure book. Except every story ends with death and destruction. There is no route to the happy ending, because it has yet to be written.

Maybe this means my Angelous may not be meant for a happily ever after. Perhaps I have failed him and Daemon in the telling of their story. What have I missed? Something is wrong. I know that.

Mauling my manuscript doesn't seem to be producing any answers, just more hostile questions. The book stemmed from a piece of flash fiction I rushed out to meet a contest deadline. I knew there was more to be written.  But I'll be damned at this point if I know what.

What do you do when you can't seem to write an ending that 'fits'?

Photo credit: Caspar Barlaeus / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons


  1. Drink. A lot.

    No wait, that's not it. ;O)

    Really, I step away for a few days and no matter how tempted I am to pick it up and MAKE IT WORK, I don't. I inhale, exhale, and repeat. Then I go back and read what I have, aloud. That often makes it click.

    I’m more than half way done blogging my way back from Z to A. :O) Middle of Everything

  2. Oh, and if possible, I'd recommend printing and reading what you have, rather than reading from the computer screen. It makes a difference, at least for me.

  3. @WN - I don't know, the first option is tempting... ;)

  4. Printing it out is a good idea--I haven't yet.

  5. Love your title of your blog!

    I feel your pain. At least you finished which is more than I can seem to do. I have a couple of unfinished novels on the go and some gathering dust.

    Are you in a crit group? I find mine are invaluable when it comes to pointing out things in my work that I never see. They often offer great suggestions for improvement.

    Printing it out is a good start as it reads differently on the screen than it does on paper.

    Good luck!

  6. A novel...I can't imagine, so any advice I give will be speculative. Maybe you could write out several different endings, print them as Beth suggested then after a few days, (or weeks, I don't really know how long it would take) go back and read all of them. One might stand out, or you can combine components of two or more. I just wish I had your problem and had a novel that only needed an ending!

  7. I've never written more than a poem here, a blurb there, not counting my real life blog and some op ed and news articles, but even on those, I've found that when I walk away for a bit and come back, what I didn't see before is suddenly obvious. It sounds, though, that you've done that since you have been "almost done for a while." Wish I could help more.

    Stopping by from the Z to A in May Challenge. You can find me at:
    The Frustrated Foodie



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