End It Like Beckham

Cross-posted on The Nightstand

When I started writing Croak, the beginning was easy. Introduce Lex, get her on the bus, have her discover Croak. It practically wrote itself.

Or at least, billions of rewrites later, it practically wrote itself.

But the ending was a bit hairier. I knew the basics – who the killer would be, what the plot would entail, what sorts of cliffhangers I’d be leaving (and oh yes, I love me some cliffhangers), but for the life of me I had no knowledge of the last word, sentence, or paragraph. I didn’t even know what the last scene would be.

Possibly this.

So I just kept writing. The general ending that I had in mind came and went, and still there was more to be written.

I kept going.

And then…it ended.

Just like that. I stared at the screen, and I knew. The book was done. Was there more to be said? Absolutely. I could have soldiered on, wrapped everything up in a neat little package, plunked a cherry on top, shoehorned in a few more mixed metaphors. But that last moment was too perfect to ruin with anything else. Not even damned dirty apes! Can you believe it?

Then one of my beta readers asked me if that seriously was the ending. She even asked if she was missing the real last chapter. Um, no, I told her, somewhat sheepishly. This got me thinking. Smooth it out? Add more? It does end pretty abruptly. Maybe add a musical number to soften the blow? Jazz hands? Jazz hands fix everything, right?

In the end I left it the way it was, especially since CaptainAwesomeAgent Tina loved it too, and I generally end up doing whatever she tells me to. I realize that since none of you have read it yet you have no idea what I’m talking about, but hopefully one day you’ll pick up what I’m throwing down. Believe me, even after all this time, it still feels right. Like ketchup on mashed potatoes. Try it. It looks like brains, and is twice as tasty.

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