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:~: Wednesday, July 04, 2007 :~:

The Big Bang

Seemed appropriate that on the 4th of July we'd talk about Big Bangs...only today it will be about ending your novel with one.

I recently took an online class with Lisa Garner, and her last lecture was on ending with a bang. She pulls together all the elements needed to do that just as you'd expect a multi-pubbed, bestselling author to do.

Far be it from me to attempt and paraphrase her words, so I'm going to share a few of her own words.

From Lisa Garner:

"First, all good romantic suspense novels need the BLACK MOMENT. In plotting terms, the Black Moment is when all seems lost. It is the ultimate collision of internal and external conflict. The villain has set a bigger mousetrap, the hero can’t think of way out of it, and he is terrified that he is failing the heroine as he has failed too many times before. This in where your character’s mettle is truly tested..."

"Black Moments are extremely important in romantic suspense. It’s the emotional apex when everything comes together. Hope and despair, love and hate..."

"Resolution in romantic suspense will almost always involve action of some kind. You want to end with a bang. Think big, bigger, and biggest..."

"When it comes to vanquishing the villain, you need to choose which character gets to deliver the death blow. I mean this seriously. While both the hero and heroine have an interest in defeating the bad guy, one of them probably has something more personal at stake, and the ending will be more emotionally fulfilling for your reader, if that character gets to play the pivotal role..."

"...after you have wrapped up your plot, defeated the bad guy, and explained the plot twists, end with your hero and heroine. Let them laugh, cry or love. Tell the reader how they will continue their lives together, stronger, healthier, and happier. This will provide the final warm glow so that your reader can lean back against the headboard and feel satisfied..."

She makes it sound so easy, doesn't she? **Sigh**

Everyone, enjoy your Independence Day celebrations! And tonight while you're watching the fireworks finale, think about your WIP--does it have the necessary elements to end with a BIG BANG?



Blogger Evanne said...

Great post - I love the idea the one with the most at stake should deal the final blow.

Thanks for sharing your class.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Evanne, since that interested you, I'll post the example she offered. I think it's helpful, but then I always find examples helpful:

From Lisa Gardner:

For example, when I wrote THE PERFECT HUSBAND, I knew my burnt out ex-Marine, J.T. Dillon, needed to confront psychopathic Jim Beckett and take a stand. It was important to prove that J.T. was willing to fight for Tess. But I also knew that J.T. couldn’t kill Jim—Tess needed to do it. Jim is her ex-husband. He abused her, he tortured her, he kidnapped her daughter. For the book to really work, we need Tess to vanquish Jim. So I let J.T. fight Jim first, but Tess is the one who comes through with the shotgun. It’s a huge moment for her, and powerful moment for the reader.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Edie said...

Joan, thanks for sharing all this! Lisa Gardner writes powerful books. Even though my books aren't RS, the ending still needs to be BIG, with a lot of emotional impact.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Oh, well...:-)...since you mentioned that aspect, Edie, I'll post another part of the talk that addresses happy endings vs. not-so-happy endings and genres.

From Lisa Gardner:

Finally, you have some choices regarding your ending. If you’re writing pure suspense, the ending can be unhappy or ambiguous. While I’m not a big fan of unhappy endings in commercial fiction, others certainly do it. One trick for the ambiguous ending—maybe the characters don’t end up together, but they still end up better off, e.g., they have grown and learned valuable lessons in the course of the book that improves their chances of finding happiness, even if they still don’t have it at this exact moment.

Definitely powerful emotional stuff there.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Thanks for sharing all this great info, Joan. Lisa Gardner writes wonderful books, and she's an excellent teacher. And I'm already following her advice in my WIP, so I was really happy to read her take on it! :)

9:05 AM  
Blogger Evanne said...

Joan you give great examples. So does Lisa. . .

9:43 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

When it comes to vanquishing the villain, you need to choose which character gets to deliver the death blow.

Love that. You've given me lots to think about regarding the climax of my book.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

This is a great post, Joan. Lots of terrific information. My next wip has all the major plot points except an ending, so this definitely gives me something to think about.

5:12 PM  

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