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Entries for April 2013

Mickey Spillane, on an occasion when writing for other writers, wrote (I am paraphrasing) that the first chapter of your book sells this book and the last chapter sells your next book. Larry Brooks (novelist and writing coach) has made this point, too, in several of his blog posts [] with respect to endings. Now, I have recently experienced this first hand, but as a reader, not in my role as a writer. I was reading a hard-boiled novel. I don’t want to name it since this is not a review, but the book was a good read with an engaging plot and a well-developed main character. The book was written from the First Person Past point of view. The novel was so well done in some respects that even before I finished reading it I went online and ordered a second copy so I could mark-up that second copy (using Larry Brooks’ story structure milestones from his invaluable book STORY ENGINEERING) when I again read this novel, this time reading it from my perspective as a writer. Then I came upon the last full paragraph of the book. Not the last chapter, which worked fine, but the last full paragraph. In it, the author had the protagonist (who, remember, was telling the story in First Person Past POV) commit suicide! Ugh!! How can someone who kills himself in the last paragraph have spent the previous 263 pages telling us what had happened to him? I could have accepted this if the story had been written in First Person Present POV, but First Person Past? No way. That last paragraph immediately destroyed my suspension of disbelief and caused me to bellow: What??? I will still read the book again and will  put the book though Larry Brooks’ engineering analysis to see if the author hit his marks for the First Plot Point, Pinch Points, Mid-Point Milestone, etc., and other structural core competencies.  I suspect he did because the book worked for me -- up to the ending. But I will always have bad feelings about this book because, in the end (pun intended), it let me down. Yet, as a writer, I’m glad I had this experience. What better way for me to remember Spillane’s and Brooks’ admonitions about endings than with this jarring experience. ...

Read More of Importance of Strong Endings to the Books We Read and Write...

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