The Flip Side of Tight and Focused

One of the reasons that there are so many books in the world is that different things appeal to different readers.  While the New York Journal of Books reviewer felt that the writing was tight and focused, one blogger felt my book was about fifty pages too short and ended too soon.  I have to take this reader seriously.  Judging from her other reviews, we have very similar tastes in books. 

I couldn’t do much about the length. While I don’t want to get too mystical about writing books, I do have to say that scenes can’t be forced into existence.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t take direction.  SAVING THE GRIFFIN pretty much doubled in size when my editor wanted me to include more Italian characters. And fortunately, my friend and fellow writer Sue Bradford Edwards had already put in a request for a scene showing flying practice with Grifonino.  As noted a few posts ago, my work in progress has expanded from 40,000 to 65,000 words.  But for SUSPECT, I would have needed my Peachtree editor to say, something like, “How about another scene with Bri?”

And then there’s the difficulty with endings.  Writers don’t want to cut things off too soon, but they have an even greater fear of maundering on for too long.  I went with the basic Elizabeth Peters model, which means wrapping things up fairly quickly after the climactic moment. But there’s one person who I probably should have brought back on stage for a final scene. But this character can’t really be forced either.  I usually just got out of the way and let her go.  So when I stumbled across what became the last line of the book, it felt like a good place for that final period.

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