I see this often in books and I don’t know if it happens because of time pressure or because of writer skill, but here’s what happens –
A book starts off strong and you’re thinking “wow, this is a great story!” but then somewhere, usually about ½ to 2/3rd of the way the writing gets noticeably weaker. It almost feels like the writer is rushing to get out a finished product.
It was a great idea and it needs to be published *now!*
While accomplished and practiced writers who follow formulas like Patterson (nothing against him, just read his book ZOO) if a writer does not have the strength of story organization and formula under her belt, things quickly fall apart.
And the reader senses that.
Perhaps the best example I’ve read of this is Wild where you’re going along and then (literally) in the final few paragraphs, the author fast-forwards to several years later with marriage and children. (That’s when I threw the book against the wall.)
Someone obviously told the author that her time was up.
I’m currently reading A Discovery of Witches – it was a staff pick in an indie bookshop and while it started off okay, I’m at 200+ pages (out of 600!) and it feels like someone told this author that she needed to pad her story (with tea time, yoga classes, and black slacks.) In this case, it’s not so much that she’s rushing to the end, but that she’s lost her focus (although to be fair, I’ve read the reviews on Amazon and I don’t have much hope for the ending.)
How can this be avoided?
Take your Time
You’ve got to take the time to write your book, be comfortable in your skin and in your story. I’m working on a memoir that will be ready to go out at the end of this month. I’ve done what everyone says you shouldn’t do – I’ve written the entire manuscript instead of the first 50 pages like you are advised to do with memoirs. I’ve taken my time and it says what I want it to say.
In the past, I’ve had agents bite on my “great idea” only to pump out a mishmash of garbage in order to meet a deadline. It didn’t’ work. I didn’t have the skills to write that way (and quite frankly I don’t want to write that way either.)
Look, you all know I’m a planner. I write out an outline of my projects and I keep to that general outline (notice I said general, it’s not set in concrete.) An outline is my road map, it keeps me on target. I write with a copy of it right in front of me.
I know my ending before I start my first paragraph, and in fact, I often start with the ending and work back from it so that it’s justified in my story. When I get lost (and don’t think I don’t) I look to my map to see where I should be heading and where I’ve come from.
I also let a friend read my work and I trust her enough to listen when she says something like, this part doesn’t really belong. Sometimes I push back but often I discover that that passage is important to *me* and not to the story. Out it goes.
As a writer, it’s important to give yourself enough time, a road map, and an outside point of view – while it may not completely eliminate wandering text and a rush to the end, it will certainly curtail it.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com)