Squawk Radio

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Liz: Revealed at Last! How to End a Book Quickly and Efficiently AND Satisfy Your Readers, Your Editor and Yourself

And I should know, since I’m going to finish a book by the end of next week or die trying. It’s no easy matter, ending a book, to which any of us who have tried to end one can testify. Regardless of length, regardless of genre, regardless of subject, it can be very tricky and very frustrating. You have to bring together two people you’ve spent months keeping apart. You have to tie up not just their loose ends, but any dangly bits of the story that might still be blowing in the wind. And you absolutely have to provide a happy ending for your hero and heroine to assure the reader that, after she closes the book, those characters won’t A) decide they are a man trapped in a woman’s body or vice versa, B) succumb to a heinous illness previously unknown in every country except Abu Dhabi, or C) step in front of a speeding Greyhound driven by Sandra Bullock.

But before I reveal the secret of how to end your book with little or no stress to yourself, I need to talk about eBay. I have come to the conclusion that eBay exists only to prevent writers from ending their books quickly and efficiently. No doubt the people who started eBay were a bunch of frustrated writers who couldn’t manage to finish their own books, so they launched this mega-giant to interfere with the rest of us who are trying to finish ours. That can be the only reason for the seemingly limitless offerings of Michal Negrin bracelets, Royal Doulton character mugs, and non-copyright-approved “Lost” merchandise.

Now then. Ending your book quickly and efficiently. Let’s talk about that. After I say something about Amazon.com. Because Amazon.com is another thing whose sole purpose for existence is to mess with a writers’ head and prevent the satisfying conclusion of her book. How can anyone be expected to finish a book when one’s Amazon ranking zips up and down so capriciously from hour to hour? And now they’re not just listing a writer’s ranking for TODAY. NOW they’re listing the ranking for YESTERDAY, too, so we can REALLY sweat our numbers. Not that *I* sweat my numbers, mind you, since I’ve grown tremendously as a human being since my career started. I’m just saying this on behalf of other writers, that’s all.

As for ending your book in a way that will satisfy your readers, your editor and yourself, that’s a very important topic, and I’ll definitely address that. But I did first want to mention this on-line quiz I took recently. It said that the movie my family Christmas most resembles is “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Which, okay, it sorta does when you take into consideration all of Charlie Brown’s neuroses and Lucy’s bossiness. We have NO dancing beagles in my family, and it rarely snows at Christmas. And for sure, none of the kids could tell you what pantophobia is.

I know, I’m supposed to discuss ending your book. And I will. Right after I say this quick thing about Sudoku. Sudoku has really been taking a beating lately from people who insist only losers do Sudoku. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s just not true. If it weren’t for Sudoku, there would be more spider solitaire addicts than you can shake a stick at. Trust me. I know.

Right. Ending your book. That’s what this blog is supposed to be about, right? Okay then. Here we go.

Actually, I’m lying. Even after ending more than fifty of them, I have no idea how to end a book quickly and efficiently. Well, I DO, but I don’t think my editor would go for it if I had both my hero and heroine walk in front of a speeding Greyhound driven by Sandra Bullock. Not that that wouldn’t lend itself to some totally righteous pathos. Just a shot in the dark, but it could potentially jeopardize sales.

So I guess the only advice I can give you for ending your book quickly and efficiently is to avoid eBay, Amazon, on-line quizzes and Sudoku while you’re trying to do it. And to end your book in a way that will satisfy your editor, your readers and yourself, you should avoid killing or maiming your characters, and you should keep them mentally sound. And also you should avoid killing or maiming yourself, and you should keep yourself mentally sound. And, okay, maybe you should hide any cutlery in the house, just to be on the safe side.

For me, ending the book is the hardest part of writing. I slow down A LOT toward the end, and it’s excruciatingly painful to get it all down on paper. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do? What’s the worst part of your profession? If you could hire someone else to complete one aspect of your job, what would it be? Me, I’m taking resumes for book-ender.
Elizabeth Bevarly, 10:09 AM
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