So now this is my last session notes entry. As you will have read it was a brilliant conference and I picked up so much including the seed for my next novel. Well this session was one that really hit home. One of the first things I did when I had a bit of time the following morning was read quickly through bits of August Rock to check. This next session did help guide me through the last rewrite before I submitted it to the New Writers Scheme. So with that introduction I will present my notes from Anne Ashurst's (Sara Craven) and Jenny Haddon's (Sophie Weston) 'I've Started: How the Hell do I Finish? Plot rescue Service'
Anne began. Starting is easy. You need to think of writing a book like building a house.
Divide your books chapters into three sections:
1-4: foundation - make sure it will support the structure and sow seeds
5-8: windows walls - building up
8-12: roof, custom made kitchen and hand over of the keys
There can be stutters at 6. The middle is sheer graft. Don't panic and struggle. Put it away for days, a week or more. Then reread where you started to go a stray. THEN kill your darlings.
Look at the foundations:
- do we know enough or too much
-should you hold back more
Go to place where it started to waiver - then cut and save elsewhere.
Is your conflict enough - interior and exterior.
- beware of them fighting the same battle over and over
-secondary characters have started to take over or could they do more?
- do the secondary character vanish without explanation; waning Wayne
Middle Section is where most of the drama takes place - dramatisation of themes and conflicts. Rebecca (which is why I am reading it now) is a perfect example. It comes to a rising peak. Each events raises the tension a bit more -
Illustrations from the book:
- can't find the morning room
- breaks the cupid
- the ball
- Mrs. Danvers urges her to kill herself
At the end of middle - enter the crisis. Make then wait; never have the major love scene come too early; if they have sex then the balance shifts (unless of course it all goes badly wrong) Save the good stuff for the end.
So don't peak too early; give then enough little peaks then tune it for the final explosion. Leave room for the appreciative Ahhhhhh.
Jenny then took over. She began by talking about Robert McKee Story Structure. Movies are about the last twenty minutes. The ending validates the beginning. She spoke of the Paula Gosling's The Zero Trap as a perfect example and then on to Mary Stewart's Nine Coaches Waiting.
You must have a satisfactory
- solution to the main plot
and total absorption of the reader's energy at the end.
Her points for a great ending:
1. insufficient conflict; ratchet up the stakes - go back half way and twist the knife - deepen it
2. unanswered question; use post it notes as you go and then fix it
3. leave to end the biggest questions - the 'But I thought you loved Carlotta moment' - watch your 'guns' and make sure you use them
4. clear up minor points in preceding chapters
5. details are enormously important; go back and plant them if necessary; readers don't want new things at the end
6. quality of writing is so important at the end; careful use of language - almost like a poem
7. need to satisfy expectation and even add a bonus
8. absorption; the reader must be so completely in the story so needn't tell; reminders of the whole book should be there but not pull them out of the story; no distractions to the bulls eye
9. at the end only one p.o.v. for emotional impact
10. no new information but new light on old
11. all the emotional issue bright to light
12. read it aloud - it should be smooth
13. if necessary go back and feed in earlier details to make end stronger
14. PACE - speed up toward the end; vary it but it all should to faster than the rest of the book
15. reminders of the whole book -right up to the end; reference direct echos of the first meeting
Jenny then took us step by step through the ending of Nine Coaches Waiting. She mentioned 'discovery of self then you discover the other.' Mary Stewart in the reference 15 points from the rest of the book in the last scene. The energy is tremendous and varying of the pace. Finally if you are writing romantic suspense tidy up the suspense plot first then the romance.