This has never happened to me: A novel that I’m writing has reached the end… only to demand I keep writing.
My new Kestral novel was almost finished its primary draft. And then it wasn’t. I realized, as I was getting to the end of my drafted story, that it didn’t want to end there. My climax… wasn’t the climax. I was going to have to revise the ending.
Never in 16 previous novels has this happened to me. My method has always been to fully plan out the book’s cues in an outline form and, following the cues from the outline, write the draft to fill in the details from start to finish. The writing itself was organic, but structured along those cues, like a scaffolding that you use to construct a sculpture. I always knew that when the scaffolding was complete, it was time to start writing. Imagine constructing a human sculpture around a human scaffolding, reaching what you thought was the end of the sculpture, and suddenly realizing that what you thought was the end of an arm was really only the elbow!
You immediately have to question yourself: How did I think this elbow was the end of an arm? Or is it really the end of the arm… and demanding I add an extra joint to really finish it? What happens to my sculpture if I have two elbows on it? Or, if I missed an elbow… what else did I miss? A knee? A hand? Will it all look balanced when I’m done? Will it look natural… realistic? Or just wrong?
As I build the real end of my narrative, I keep reminding myself that this isn’t a human sculpture; I can add to the narrative without throwing the whole thing off. As long as I do it right, and don’t add a knee where an elbow is required. But I have to wonder if this means a major change to my writing process, and how it will impact future writing projects.
Needless to say, this throws off my Kestral re-release schedule (such as it was). We’ll have to see what other changes happen because of this.