My two favorite moments in writing a novel are the beginning and the end. Why do I mention this? Because I just typed the two most beautiful words in the English language: The End. Wahoo!
After reading Judith McNaught’s marvelous epilogue in my favorite of her novels, Almost Heaven, I vowed to always treat my readers to one last chapter with the characters they (and I) have grown to know and love. I just finished the epilogue to my current manuscript Throw Your Heart Over, a romantic mystery about a lost horse, and I was crying as I typed. I think that’s a good sign for the emotional intensity of the book.
I went downstairs and announced to my husband that the book was finally finished. He suggested champagne (mostly because he’s had to put up with my crankiness as I struggled to reach the end so he needs a good stiff drink). Who am I to disagree?
It’s obvious why The End is so satisfying. You’ve climbed the mountain, scaled the wall, found the pot of gold, finished the darned book! That’s how you come to think of it after about page 250, as the darned book.
At the beginning though, you have all the beautiful possibilities ahead of you. Your characters are new and fresh in your mind; you have lots of things to discover about them. The plot is a road with many branchings still to be explored. Surprises await you around every turn, and at the moment, you’re excited about that thought. It’s rather like the first flush of love.
Between that hopeful beginning and that emotional ending, there’s a lot of hard work and difficult choices. There’s a sagging middle to shore up, and unexpected plot holes to fill in. There are suddenly recalcitrant characters to wrestle into the right frame of mind.
But I’m done with all that now, and looking ahead to the bright shining beginning of the next book.
That’s me tap-dancing on the ceiling.