The beginnings of my novels and stories usually get the most revision, mainly due to the fact that there’s a bit of flailing involved. I’m still trying to figure out the voice and the focus of the story, so there’s going to be a lot of dead-ends and extraneous filler that gets cut out, once I find my footing.
The endings, on the other hand, can go either way. Usually I know exactly where I want to stop; it’s just a matter of laying out how I’m going to get there. It’s a balancing game at that point…I don’t want to rush it, nor do I want to pad it out with unnecessary rambling.
I’ve made all kinds of errors in my years of learning how to write stories. I’ve written corny cliffhangers, implausible wrap-ups, unimportant ‘where are they now’ passages, and everything in between. [I can proudly say I have yet to write an ‘…and then he woke up, and it was all a dream” ending. Even I have my standards!] I usually spend as much time focusing on nailing the end as I do nailing the most important climactic scenes that come before it. I want to do it just right. Or right enough, where it can be fine-tuned in revision.
With Meet the Lidwells — I’m currently writing the last chapter at this time, and I should be done most likely this week or next — the ending has definitely been a tough one. As this is a story written in the format of a music biography, I can’t give it a nice poetic ending, or a roll-credits ending. Those books tend to resolve themselves in a slightly different way. The focus characters go on with their lives and careers, so this ending has to be more of an emotional closure. That part of their lives is over now, and they’ve moved on. And that’s been a hell of a tough one to capture just right.
I’m not looking to nail the ending perfectly, at least not right now. But when revision comes along, hopefully I’ll be able to do it justice.