That’s what I’ve got left in my current fiction project. 6 pages of story outline, consisting of 2 chapters and an epilogue meant to wrap up 4 years of theorycrafting, tie off half a dozen character arcs, and set up the next stories to tell.
It’s hard to get across how hard it is to write however many words that will turn out to be right now. In many ways, the next three chapters will be much harder than the first three, because I don’t have to set up characters and plots with these words.
I have to end them.
I could jump straight to a wrap-up, and call the book done. But no one reading through all the pages before them would be happy with the result, least of all me. And any editor worth their salt would kick it back to me and tell me I need at least three more chapters to wrap things up.
Every morning for the last few weeks, I’ve reviewed and refined the previous night’s work. That review inevitably includes shuffling around the future, tightening the remaining outline until it’s impervious to change. Grabbing what I can and moving it forward into the book, racheting up the tension in each scene then easing off just a bit, so that the opening of the next one slams you in the feels. 30 pages and 15 chapters slowly reducing, boiling off the fat and leaving behind only what’s worth putting on your plate.
6 pages. Chapter 39 could easily become 39-42. It’s 39, and will stay that way until an editor tells me to change it. There’s a section of text in those pages that’s been struck through but not deleted. The plot has already moved past it, but I don’t want to give it up just yet. It’s no darling to be preserved, but until I type (or finalize, since I’ve known the ending of this book for almost a year now) the last words, they’re staying in the work file.
Chapter 40 is three of those pages. The emotional reset button for everything that’s happened, it’s just a bit of formatting away from being a finished scene. A short session of Show don’t Tell, and then we’re on to the end.
War’s over, everybody gets to go home. 500 words to draw you back into my fictional universe, and remind you of why you paid me for the tour in the first place.
6 Pages, and you can go back to reading comic books, or watching movies with explosions. 6 pages until I can sit on the couch with you, drinking our beverages of choice and laughing about how ridiculous it was when I worried about writing those words.
Those words, not these. These are easy.
This post will leave the keyboard in a few minutes and fly out into the world. It may or may not ever be read, and will probably not influence a reader who’s never heard of me to pick up one of my books. But for as long as the power is on in the server room and someone shares, likes, reposts or favorites them, they’ll be a reminder to me of just how easy it is to write something you care about.
6 pages. Time to write.
Save me a space on the couch.