Any writer will tell you it’s hard work writing a novel. What’s even harder is the final edit, when you have to trim and prune and polish until the damn thing shines so bright it’s blinding.
Unfortunately all that trimming and pruning and polishing means cutting stuff out. Stuff you love. “But it’s mine!” you howl. “It’s mine and I love it and I don’t want to be parted from a single word of it.” Sound familiar?
No matter how much you tell yourself that it’ll be a better book for it, you won’t believe it at first. Then you’ll get to a point say 35% of the way through and you start to develop a bit of detachment and think yeah, I can do this–and what’s more, it’s fun.
This carries you through the next 50% of the job, and then it all comes to a shuddering halt, right as you turn into the home straight. This is where I find myself today.
I’ve done the hard part, taken 15k words out of a somewhat overfed manuscript and rewritten a few chapters that just weren’t cutting it. The result is cleaner, tighter, better paced and does more with less. I’m well happy with it.
My problem is this. In the big finale–I hate to use the word climax. Maybe it’s my mucky mind but it just seems, well, rude, quite frankly. It is inextricably linked to gentlemen’s top-shelf periodicals and Newcastle’s only blue movie cinema, which had a name beginning with C and ending in ax, with a lime in the middle. But I digress.
In the big finale, the bad guy doesn’t appear. I thought long and hard about this, and decided that he should. It is, after all, his show. And I had an idea that he should saunter on set in one of his Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen silk shirts and taunt My Hero about his girlfriend. It’s the kind of thing he’d do.
So I started looking for where I could engineer an appearance by the bad guy. And bugger me if I couldn’t find one. The finale chapters work so well as they are that shoehorning anything in is just going to upset the balance (and you don’t want to start upsetting the balance in the Force, mate–anything could happen).
I therefore find myself in a quandary. My head says a finale without the bad guy and My Hero squaring off is not much of a finale at all. Dare I say it, an anti-climax. And my heart is saying, don’t bugger about with it or you’ll spoil it. Of course the logical way to approach this is to employ the wonderful “Save As…” command and make a copy of where I’m at right now, try the edit, and see if it works. If it does, great. If it doesn’t, no harm done, go back to the backup and all it’s cost me is a couple of late nights (sucks having to work for a living, eh?)
I am, however, a writer, and therefore only peripherally acquainted with logic. None of this book or either of its sequels has been planned. It has evolved on tea, chocolate biscuits and four hours’ sleep a night (sucks having to work…etc)
This, as my dad’s colleague used to say, is a two-biscuit problem. I need more Hobnobs.