Sunday, 5 April 2009

A Better Ending

Over the last week I've finally figured out the climax of my novel. I'd already written it once, had a couple of people read it as it was and neither of them seemed to mind it (I had comments about the denouement - but that was a different matter).

I wasn't comfortable with it though. Not enough really happened compared to previous parts of the book, the hero's solution was both passive and relied a bit too much on luck and the setting was king of boring.

So I went back and changed some details about the location - it used to be a small, fairly dull village in the middle of some woods that's home to the bad guys, now it's a coastal village with a history of smuggling and a darker look to it.

I also decided that rather than have my heroes captured by the villains, which is what happens in the original version, I'd have them actively sneak into the village (and I even managed to come up with a good explanation of why they needed to on top of that).

So far it was better. I had a mission for the heroes, I'd eliminated the coincidence factor and I'd made a more interesting setting where I could stick some sort of climactic battle. I'd even come up with my main protagonist's solution to the problem - I was going to give him a force field that he cleverly invents/repairs.

Writing it proved to be a slightly different matter. First part worked fine. Then came the mission to stop the bad guys.

Halfway through I had an idea - about a secret part of the town - and that seemed a cool idea.

Then writing that, I had a better idea of what to do with the force field. I'd also introduced two other super science gadgets - just on a whim - and suddenly I figured out how to use one of those and the force field to create a neat solution to one of the heroes' problem.

And then while trying to figure out how to make a revelation about the ultimate villain of the piece less anticlimactic than it was, I realised that I was making a huge mistake in again providing a passive solution. I had an idea of setting something up for a future novel (assuming I ever finish with this one) and while it made sense, it wasn't a very dramatic resolution. And in solving that problem, I created an even better climax than I'd originally anticipated.

Plus the third of my gadgets miraculously provided the solution to that final battle. In fact it couldn't have been a neater solution than if I'd planned it.

Only it was a bit too neat. So I've had to make it even harder for my protagonist by breaking the gadget.

I'm much happier with the revised ending - at least I will be once I finish writing it. But I never would have come up with it if I hadn't been my own worse critic.

Even when other people think you've done a good job, it doesn't mean that you can't push yourself to do better.

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