Writing the end of a draft is tough.
First you have to get the pace and timing right, and if you’re anything like me, the end of the draft is where all the action happens. You’ll be eager to tie up all the ends in one neat chunk, which runs the risk of making things move way too fast.
The ends of my works in progress tend to be almost in note form, ideas spread across a page just to get them down. Pace is a problem.
Once you’re past pace, though, there’s something else. The thing that no one will tell you about. Well, the thing that everyone will tell you about but until you feel it, you’ll never know. It’s the reason why writing a book is often compared to giving birth. People will tell you how painful labour is, but you’ll never get just how much it hurts and what the euphoria feels like until you’re there in the moment.
That’s the second thing. It’s scary finishing a draft, because even though there’s another three, four, five, however many drafts to squeeze out, the first one cements the idea. It provides the foundations for the great book. It is a starting point for your charaters and plots and will be the piece that, once it’s cooled, will provide the inspiration and encouragement you need to keep going and going. Writing “The End” on that initial manuscript is exciting, thrilling. It’s a high like no other, and one that a lot of writers never get to experience as real life interferes or they reach the last five thousand words and decide they hate the 60 thousand previous ones. So, writing “The End” is reserved for those few who make it.
And it feels fantastic.
It’ll also break your heart. Your characters will have spent days, weeks, months, even years having conversations on your head, deciding their fates, being real, and now – well, now they’re done. You have to leave them be, stop spying on their worlds and let them be free.
I always have a sadness when I reach the end of a first draft. I cried the first couple of times, in fact.
The second thing brings with it a fear. Once you’ve been ecstatic and empty in equal measures, cried through joy and sadness, and decided to hide the draft away to give yourself time to breathe, you’ll feel it.
You’ll be hit by the “What next?”
And only you will be able to answer that one.