Climax and Denouement

Right now I’m running the climax scenes of October’s Fire through my critique group, the Inkwells. I have been working on this for so long that I can no longer really see what I’m doing on the page. That’s what the critique group helps with. Even before we meet, before I get any feedback on a piece, the moment I hit send on the email, I get new insight, the ability to read it with fresh eyes.

So now I’m trying to see if the post-climax chapters still make sense with the last-minute plot twist I added to the climax. And yes, it pretty much does, I just need to add a sentence or two to allude to the plot twist, and there you go. Although I don’t consider my book to be the cleverest, there are still some surprises right down to the end.

But what order do I want to reveal those? It will be over quickly, nobody wants to keep reading long after a big exciting final battle, so I just have a few very short scenes answering questions, reuniting people, and showing Fairy Glen return to (semi) normality. All in all about 5% of the book. But the order of the reveals will still matter. What have I given up by revealing things to the reader before the character knows? Is that as suspenseful as keeping it secret from the reader? I think so. I think the type of suspense I’m going for is the kind where the reader does know more than the characters, so they get worried for them.

And then of course there’s the epilogue, (which I’m not calling an epilogue), that ends on a cliffhanger for the next book in the series. Is that cheating? I hope not. How is it any different than including the first couple of chapters of the next book as a sample?

We’ll see what the Inkwells say.

Beta Readers

I’ve had a few friends read my book, but I got some detailed feedback recently from a good friend who reads a lot of mysteries and read my book in less than a month. I trust her feedback because although she cares about me she has no problem being honest.

Part of the thing with beta readers is that they are kind of like shrinks–they can tell you things you knew deep down but were choosing to ignore.

During my drafting phase, I’d have to say the thing I struggled with the most was plot.

And now that I’m doing seemingly endless revisions, the plot is still my biggest bugaboo. It makes me wish I knew what I was doing when I started! But then again, if I’d waited til I knew what I was doing, I never would’ve started. Catch 22.

My critique group has been enormously helpful in this, along with my research into writing craft, and little by little the pieces fall into place.