I am at the last scene of my major book project, Never Say Die, that I have been writing for six months and planning for several years. I am thirty-two chapters and 350 pages in, and now the responsibility comes to wrap up the story in a big bright bow and come up with a conclusion for everything.
As you can imagine, a lot has happened in those pages, and I have a lot to resolve. And that’s the problem. How do I resolve everything in one scene?
With the exception of the beginning, the ending is the most important part of the whole book. I say that because the beginning is responsible for getting people to read the blamed thing, but the ending has the responsibility of giving people the payoff. It’s why they spent all that time and money reading the book in the first place. Write a poor ending, and regardless of how well the rest of your book was written, they will walk away saying that your book sucked.
And that’s why I am struggling right now. The literary imperative is described in these words by Robert McKee: “Give the reader what they want, but not in the way they expect it.” The author has to anticipate what the reader wants and had to provide that. At that same time, if you do it exactly as they expect, they will be disappointed.
That’s why Ernest Hemingway reportedly rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times. I don’t know if I will rewrite my ending that many times, but you have to get it right. I’ve written it once, and from my perspective, it didn’t work. So it’s back to the drawing board.
Most of that is just plain thinking, not writing. I have to let my creative juices flow. After all, it’s just one scene.
The second most important scene in the entire book.