The Ending Problem

When I write, which is not every day (I mean, I write here every day or pretty dang close, but fiction) I try to write in roughly 2,000 word chunks. I stole that from John Scalzi and he’s right, it is a nice chunk.

Now that I know how the first draft needs to end–after two different endings that have pieces I want, but not the arc I want–it’s pretty much all I can really think about doing–just getting this damn first draft done, getting the shitty version that is the right shape down.

Yesterday, though, I realized the scope of the problem.

The book up until the end is about 64,000 words. I have been writing and rewriting an ending that is about 12,000 words in length, more or less, depending on which version. My current version of the ending is just over 10,000 words and is probably about 2/3 done. And yet, I’ve been trying to crank out what will be a roughly 15,000 word draft in… well… since I figured out how it had to end which feels like it was a long time ago but was, holy shit, less than three days ago.

No wonder I am a frazzled delirious mess. I did learn two things that might be of interest to you–one is that apparently Joel Chandler Harris had a version of the Three Little Pigs, that, if my internet research is correct, is the first printed version of the tale to have a sing-song rhyme, though not “little pig, little pig, let me in.”  Fortunately this means that Sarah can quote from it when she and Sue knock on Lee’s door.

The other is that there exists such a thing as a church grim, which is the spirit of a dog that guards church cemeteries. William/the Thing claims to be one, but I’m thinking he (and The Thing) in real life are more obviously a Barghest, since a barghest isn’t exactly a dog. The thing I wonder about church grims though is the name. Grimm is a nickname of Odin’s. And it wouldn’t be surprising to find him as a sacrifice in any legend. How Scandinavia became Christian was always strange. For a long while, heathens called Thor “The Red Christ” and wore Thor’s Hammer charms around their necks like the Christians wore crosses, to indicate that Thor was their savior. Would it be so strange for early Norse Christians to assume that church graveyards would still need Odin or someone in his stead to guard them?

I’m also struggling with whether to include a list of characters or if that starts to seem cruel with so many characters sharing the same names.

I am frazzled, but I am writing, at least as soon as I get back from the park.

8 thoughts on “The Ending Problem

  1. I vote for a list of characters.

    I know I’ll most likely need it.

    I am impressed at the 2000 words; i can’t ever get that many in one sitting.

    You have got to be utterly drained at this point. Make sure you get some food.

  2. My problem is that I really need my list of characters to be a constellation, some ways that draw connections

    Oh, like the A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD thing.

    Or like a family tree, but with characters. Otherwise, I’m not sure what help a list would be. i mean, if there are a bunch of John Overtons, it doesn’t do you any good to see “John Overton” listed three times. But if you can see that one is dude’s dad and one is dude’s son, that’s useful.

    I need a character map, moreso than a character list, but I have no map-making skills.

  3. Sounds like you need two things…a family tree AND a neighborhood/town map. Or a gallery of portraits with little bios.

  4. It WOULD seem that way until you realize that everyone in Nashville was apparently issued an Overton to either marry themselves or marry off to one of their children.

    Then you realize that the whole story is just one big secret history of Judge Overton’s relatives.

    Shoot, though, now I am wondering about a map.

  5. If Faulkner, who knew about confusing reuse of names, did a family tree. You can do a family tree!

  6. Pingback: Jim Morrison Couldn’t Ponder The End More than Me « Tiny Cat Pants

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