Monday, May 19, 2014

The End is Nigh

I'm just at the stage in the first draft of the new book when I've stopped introducing fresh developments, new red herrings, extra plot complications, to keep the reader baffled.  That's been the fun bit. 

Now there's no escape.  I'm having to confront all the problems I've created and sort them out  into some kind of satisfying conclusion.  The image of a person who has started varnishing the floor with gay abandon only to discover they have painted themselves into a corner is vividly in my mind.

There is a sort of cold feeling in the pit of my stomach that maybe this time I've been so clever in devising the crime that I've actually managed to create the perfect murder that can't be solved, even by its creator.

 I felt huge sympathy when reading a book by one of my favourite crime writers (whom I wouldn't dream of naming).  She is hugely and deservedly successful; the novels are original and always clever as well as being utterly gripping.   In this one book, though, when it got to the final stages it rather lost its way and Chapter 25, where the denouement began, was uncharacteristically muddled and unconvincing.

When it came to the acknowledgements at the end of the book, there was a fulsome thank you to her editor and the editorial staff for their help - 'particularly with Chapter 25 '

Then I knew what had happened.  She had, indeed, been too clever for her own good and when it came to tying up the ends she just couldn't think how to do it.  The editorial team must have come in with their suggestions and the result  - Well, they do say that a camel is just a horse that was designed by a committee.

So that's really not an option.  I'm on my own and I'm scared about it.  Denouement - it means literally 'unknotting'.  What if I pull out one thread and the whole thing completely unravels? 

I'm telling myself I've done it before, that every author goes through this sort of trauma and there's probably a special long German word for it.

But then I think maybe there isn't. Maybe it's just me.  Before now I've been lucky but it's caught up with me at last; I'm going to be punished for not  plotting precisely and working out how it will finish before I even start. I'm not looking forward to the next spell.

And the worst thing is that now there's this  idea shimmering on my mental horizon, the new plot that will be so much better, so easy to write, throwing up no problems at all ...  If only I could finish this one and get started.


Donis Casey said...

Planning the murder is a piece of cake compared to figuring out how your protag is going to SOLVE the murder without the killer standing up and yelling "I did it!" Every time I manage to come up with a denouement that isn't contrived (much), I can only thank the muses, because I really think an author needs divine help to do it! Good luck.

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks, Donis. Just at the moment I feel I need it!