Thursday, March 08, 2007

What to Do?

Two of my friends have read my novel, and while they really did like it (yay!), they both thought the ending was sort of "tacked on" and that it should have ended much earlier than it did. Here's the set up (though I will try not to give too much away in the event this novel is actually published some day!)

The end of the story (a WW2 novel) takes place after the hero and heroine get married. Since he is a German POW and she is an American, he goes back to Germany, and she follows. I wanted to show him finding his parents, since he had no idea if they were dead or alive, and also show the relationship between the hero and his father since his father was an ardent supporter of the Fatherland. I also wanted my heroine to find her "purpose" in life - this is an inspirational novel and God's purpose for our lives is one of the major themes - and that purpose is helping the people of Germany recover.

Now here's my problem. I love, love, LOVE this part of the book. I love showing the dynamics of how this woman deals with living in a country whose soldiers killed her first husband at Normandy; I love showing the relationship between the hero and his father and how his father reacts to his son's American wife; I love showing how the two deal with their growing faith in this broken country.

My two friends commented that this section felt "too rushed", anticlimatic, that it looked like I needed to up the word count, so I wrote more. But that's not it at all. In fact, I was worried I would go quite a bit over my 100K goal. Maybe I wrapped things up too quickly.

So what to do? I really feel this section is necessary and to be honest, they read my first draft and I've made some major changes in the story since then - weaved together some imperative plot lines and emotional entanglements, etc.

I guess this is what the editing stage is for.


  1. My suggestion is to let it sit for a while, then re-read it with fresh eyes. If you agree with your friends at that point, maybe go back and flesh out that final section a bit. If it's necessary to the story and a good ending, no editor will turn it down because of a couple thousand words. ;-)

  2. I agree with Rachel. If it is noticeable to readers, it might not belong.

  3. Jeez, it's so hard to say without reading the manuscript, but I wonder if those scenes you described--about hero & dad, about heroine & country--should be shown as part of character development earlier in the story, before the black moment?

    Good luck Melissa, and hang in there. I totally agree with the "fresh eyes" comments, too.

  4. Melissa - I'm just about to go to my Nia class. Will think about it and come back and post again. It is a tough call, though. More later.

  5. Melissa, I've moved to another "secret" weblog. I'm moderating comments on the old one so if you leave an email address I won't publish it and I can send you the url. Please leave your link as it is for now, ta.

  6. I think you should go with your gut. If it needs to be there, then it should be. I too agree with Rachel, set it aside for a bit. Though getting it out of your mind is something I can't help with. Mine never seem to leave.

    I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I cut some early scenes that didn't contribute to the main plot. Now I'm struggling because with them went a lot of character development.

    Hang in there, it'll come to you. :)

  7. Hmm... this is a tough one. Could you move showing how the woman feels to an earlier part? It does sound like it's a necessary part of the story.

    Are your friends writers too? Would they be happy to take another look at the major changes you've made?

    I agree, sleep on it for a while, and then go with your instincts - remember, it's your story.

    Sue :-)

  8. Melissa - from what you said, it sounds like the ending is a fantastic sequal. It sounds like you have a lot more to tell about these two characters, but that maybe it felt "tacked on" to this book, or rushed because you were trying to fit another entire story into the resolution portion of this book.

    I'd look at it and ask if yourself if you can end this book with their happily ever after "we're married - WOO!!" and leave some open questions to resolve about his father, etc. Then take a look at the current ending and see if you've got enough there for it's own book.

    If not... maybe you could give it more meat rather than less, weave more of those story threads into the beginning and middle so that readers are compelled to find out what happens with *this* particular story question as well.

  9. It's so hard to tell without reading, but I'm with Therese Walsh--it may be that some of this should be integrated earlier.

    That way, the reader is essentially already looking for the core of what you've written in the resolution, and you can make that resolution shorter and yet more integral to what's come before.

    --a shoring up, if you will, of elements introduced earlier, which then leaves the reader satisfied with the emotional arc of the story as well as the plot arc.

    But again, not having read it, this is just a 2-cents view!

  10. Wow, it is a tough call without seeing the book. Could you perhaps have one more impartial reader take a look at it? See if she concurs with the other two?

    What I've read is that if comments are all over the map, then you can ignore the ones you don't like. But if all the comments say essentially the same thing, then there might be something to it.

    In the last analysis, though, you have to go with your gut, then send it off and let an editor decide.

  11. Definitely come back to it with fresh eyes. I see your point of how you've changed your story since they've read it, but tacked on is tacked on. Perhaps you can weave a few more scenes inbetween to make your ending more integrated?

    An extra thousand words isn't going to make a publisher reject the MS if it's something that interests them.

    Good luck!

  12. Thanks, all, for your advice. Yes, the two that read it were both writers, so I value their input. And with all the cuts I've been making, I think I'll have more than enough room for an extra few words. :)


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