Monday, March 22, 2010

Where Endings Go To

I spent the weekend working on Blood Wounds and finished it at some point last night.

The book is about 250 pages long. My guess is the last 50 pages (aka 20%) will have to be seriously rewritten. Major major revisions.

Without having read it, my perception is my characters do a lot of talking during those last 50 pages. Fabulous talking, I'm sure, but as Gertrude Stein said, "Remarks are not literature." On the other hand, she said it about Hemingway, and maybe my remarks are literature. But I have my doubts.

Scooter played Purr On The Neck starting at 6:30 this morning, and since I refuse to get out of bed before 7 (I'm self-employed after all), I had some time to think about the ending of the book and what it needs to work. I immediately came up with some alternative approaches, so I'm not concerned about it.

Nor do I feel any great pressure to return to it. Tomorrow I'm visiting a school in New Jersey, and then I'll spend a few days glued to my computer and TV, watching the World Figure Skating Championships. A year ago, I was at the World Figure Skating Championships. Then again, a year ago so was Evan Lysacek and this year he's on Dancing With The Stars. Which makes this one of the few blog entries in history that refers both to Gertrude Stein and Dancing With The Stars (I bet she would have been on if anyone had asked her. Gertrude Stein was fun).

So I'll let my brain cells relax for a bit, and then I'll read the book and figure out how to make the last fifty pages worthy of the first two hundred.

Goals are important in life. So are good endings. And so, according to Gertrude Stein, was a high quality cha cha.


Elaine Marie Alphin said...

Wahoo! Major congratulations on reaching the end of this draft, and finding inspiration for revising the ending.

Much as I admire Gertrude Stein, I do believe that Shakespeare might disagree with her belief that remarks are not literature... Sometimes, even in a novel, characters just need to sit and talk (or stand and pontificate - or pace and argue).

Have a great time in New Jersey!

Anonymous said...

I have a dialogue in the school play, i wish i had a monologue, i LOVE talking!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the ending!
Can't wait to read Blood Wounds!
All the Best


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to Elaine Marie Alphin and Anonymous and Anonymous-

I love talking also. I love being talked to. I would have really loved being talked to by Gertrude Stein.

Alas, for Blood Wounds to succeed, the last 50 pages had better contain something other than chatter.

Or chatter and cha chas!

Susan said...

Yay you for finishing those pages!! And I'm so in awe at how you figured out how to write the story you're envisioning and then figuring out what was keeping you from doing so.

-Another Susan

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Susan-

Well, I wouldn't be so in awe of me just yet.

The more I think about those last 50 pages, the more I'm sure I went the wrong way and they'll all have to be thrown out.

I'll get it right, but I haven't just yet!

Kats said...

Congratulations on getting to the end! It seems like you only just started writing it, how long would you say it usually takes you to write the first draft? And then edit it?

I'm eagerly awaiting This World to come out in the UK!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Kats-

I just checked, and Amazon UK has This World scheduled for May 3. I don't know if that means it'll be available before then or not (here, the countdown clock is still running on the right side of the blog, and while people all over have already read the book).

Given what a dreary March day it is here, May sounds pretty wonderful.

Ordinarily, for a long YA, a first draft will take me 4-6 weeks. Blood Wounds got divvied up, since I wrote the first 100 pages last summer, and then got back to it a few weeks ago. Or less. I guess I wrote the next 150 pages in March.

All I know is I'm currently trying to redo the ending in my mind. It ends at A Point Of Reconciliation, and the question is how much bad stuff can happen before then so that The Point Of Reconciliation is legitimate.

Let's hope I can come up with an answer!

Kats said...

Thanks for your answer - wow, 4-6 weeks is fast!

I hope This World comes out earlier here as well, I can't wait to read it.

Lupe said...

Hey Susan,
Thank You very much for taking the time for answering my question in your previous post, I really appreciated.:]
It helped a lot to know and understand how you work with your own books, I can get and idea of how an experienced writer thinks as he/she is in the process of writting a book.

Thank You and have a great day!!!

Katherine said...

You have me waiting in agony for Blood Wounds to come out!!!!!! Good luck getting it right, I'm sure you will :D

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Helloe to Kats, Lupe, and Katherine-

I'm pleased to report that Scooter woke me up at 6:38 this morning with a rousing game of Purr On The Neck, and with the additional minute of awake time, I pretty much solved the last 50 pages of Blood Wounds.

I even wrote down the basic order of events, so I'll remember when I get to writing them!

Kathryn said...

You were in my state! It seems funny to me that same week you were here visiting a school, our school had a writer visit too. Paul B. Janeczko came to our school on monday. It would be nice to meet you someday too.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Happy late Friday afternoon Kathryn-

I enjoy visiting schools, talking with the students and the teachers (and whoever else feels like talking with me).

Maybe someday our paths will cross!

Liz x said...

Take your time writting and don't worry about dialogues, literature is an art. I don't belive all writting "rules" apply to the same story. If a story creates a brand new person, and this person is realistic, just remember every person in this world is different with different ideals, lives and circumstances. Call me crazy, but I think if the author FEELS that their story is correct, then no one who calls him/herself "educated" will ever get that book out of their mind. This is then the story becomes lives, not words on paper but a world where the reader can escape into and leaves a lasting empression long after the book is sitting on a bookshelf.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Liz x-

I agree with you that if the emotions of a character resonate within the writer, they're much more likely to resonate within the reader. And with any luck, that emotional resonance will last, and the book will become a lasting memory for the reader.

The trick for the writer, is, of course, to make sure that emotional honesty is there. And that the story reveals that honesty in an interesting way.

Actually, there are a lot of tricks involved. Writing is definitely a tricky business!