Chickenwire and toilet paper rolls by Deb Jennifer

I have a terrible habit when writing: I race through endings.  I’m not careful about word choice.  I leave out all the important details that bring a scene to life.  Dialogue is choppy.  Once the end is in sight, it’s full speed ahead.  Shoot first, ask questions later.

I think this happens for two reasons.  The first is that I want to be done.  I’ve been at it for a while, and I’m practically salivating to have a finished draft.  This is the point at which I print everything out and get to actually hold it my hands: a completed novel.  Yes, it’s rough.  Yes, it needs a whole lot of TLC, but still, it’s a book with a beginning, middle and end.  Something to go on.

The second reason is that I want to know what happens.  Usually, as I’m going along, I really don’t know how things will turn out.   When I wrote Promise Not to Tell, I didn’t know who the killer (or killers) was going to turn out to be until I made it to the end.   Was it Nicky, Jean, Kate or Zack?  Had Del’s ghost really come back and killed someone?  I had no idea.  And the only way to find the answer was to write my way through it, in hurried, broad strokes.

A lot of writers use revision as a time to carve away all that’s unnecessary, like a sculptor finding the form beneath.  With me, it’s more like building a sculpture from papier-mâché.   I start with a frame and add layers during revision.  This is especially true by the time I get to the ending, when it’s pretty much chickenwire and toilet paper rolls held together with duct tape – it needs a lot of filling in, smoothing out, and prettying up.  Hopefully, the homely frames of those rushed-through endings are invisible by the time they make into a reader’s hands.

7 Replies to “Chickenwire and toilet paper rolls by Deb Jennifer”

  1. You’re not alone, darlin’. I’m exactly the same way and I’m going through it right now. I’m doing a final sweep of my edits for the next adult book and am whipping through it, too lazy and impatient (odd combo) to bother fixing things. Somebody needs to slap me.

  2. You did a skilled craftsman’s job of smoothing things out and filling others in, Jennifer. Nary once did I catch a glimpse of chickenwire or toilet paper rolls amidst the ending — which I promise not to tell.

  3. Oh, how nice to have a sculpture metaphor for your writing process. I wonder what mine would be? Maybe a sound installation? I don’t have much in the way of substance, unfortunately.

  4. I’m doing the same thing too! I’ve noticed that now that I’m nearing the end, my chapters have suddenly gotten shorter — it’s so helpful to hear I’m not alone!

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