Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tying Up Loose Ends

In every workshop we are bombarded by the the importance of the beginning.

It has to be crisp...it has to immediately engage the reader...it has to introduce the characters...set up the  conflict....delineate the plot...

And yet we have very few workshops and pointers on how to finish the damn book.
It is the part of writing that I find the most difficult. It's where I have to go back and ensure I've tied up every loose end....and make sure that every person mentioned had their own little cameo scenes and that the readers are not left hanging.

If you bring into your story the old guy who runs thecorner dairy you, as the writer, must ensure he has at least three scenes within the book's canvas so the reader is satisfied the old guy has played his role to the full and he's not just a bit player used to fill in a few pages to achieve a given word count.

I can hear some people asking why. Why is it so important to give these bit players this much consideration?

The reason I give these bit players so much importance is that they are a critical component in fleshing out your canvas...and every book is as much a canvas as an art board is to an artists.  Where artists use paint....writers use words.

And the bit players add a new and critical dimension to a story and breathe life into your main characters... they provide a background against which a writer can round out the principal characters.
All characters in even the greatest classical works start out as cardboard cut outs....It is the writer's skill that weaves them into a three dimensional character....and it the small bit players that form the rich backdrop that allow your main characters to becomes real... so real a reader not only can relate to that character they want to keep that character and your book on their keeper shelf.

As a reader there's nothing that annoys me more than reading about a character early in a book and then never meeting them again...and I'm left wondering what is their story? Why were they there?

And it is the way you deal with these bit characters and weave them throughout your book and ensure their  cameo scenes create a complete vignette that leaves a reader satisfied.... And as writers it's our to ensure every loose end is tied up in an ending that satisfies our readers and leaves them closing the book with that aahh feeling.
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