The Two Hardest Parts of Writing A Novel? The Beginning & The End

I just started Book 3 of the story of Adam & Evan (My "Seducing The Guardian" Olivia Outlaw Series). This one - at least so far - is titled: "Enticing Duty." I finished Book Two and published it almost 10 days ago, but Book Three lurked in the barely begun stage for days. Why? Because starting a book is hard. It wouldn't be nearly as hard if I were a planner.

See, writers of fiction are commonly divided into two species: planners and pantsers. Planners will have a full outline of a book completed before they write the first word. I admire them greatly and can only imagine how organized their lives must be. I bet they have neat underwear drawers and matched socks - if such thinks actually exist. (They seem more like unicorns to me!) Other writers are "pantsers" and they just set down and start typing. These folks are reckless daredevils who will make a dish out of tofu and turnips because it's what they have - and then serve it to their husbands for dinner. There's another category of writers that people don't talk about. These are the insane folks keep a stuffed duck named Woodrow beside their laptop. Yes, you guessed it - I'm in that group. We won't start a book until our characters start telling us their story.

What should we call the writers like me? (Okay, okay - hush out their in the peanut gallery. I will NOT put those words in my blog.) I think the best category would be: Writers directed by the voices in their heads. Because these folks - me, myself and I included - can not write until our characters are good and darned ready to reveal their tales. Sometimes, they do it in drips and drops. Other times, they talk so fast that my fingers can't keep up. But either way, if I get ahead of them or ignore them, the story won't flow. If I misunderstand and take a slightly wrong turn, sometimes the characters sulk and won't talk to me for a while. (Vlad, from my "Forever" - Mary Anne Graham - series has been sulking lately. I think I understand the overall arc of his story, but I got the angle wrong in the beginning. Soon, he'll forgive me and talk to me again, and I can make some progress on that one).

Adam of Seducing the Guardian hasn't been sulking. He and I both knew where part 3 of his story would start because he mentioned it at the end of part 2. Well, we knew the emotional direction and general tone of part 3, but only Adam knew what happened to make Evan re-appear in such a dramatic fashion. Today, Adam finally decided to share --- and we're off, finally beginning. It'll be a while yet before we get to the other hard part - the ending. Just yet, I don't even know if Book 3 will end Adam and Evan's story or if they may have another book to go.

Endings are hard for a lot of reasons. It's like the day before the last day of a vacation you've really enjoyed. Just the thought that it ends the next day can send you off to book another day or two - that you probably don't need and can't afford. But those extra days are easier than facing the end, aren't they? But when you get to the end, you start on the beginning of your journey home. You know what happens then, right? You're anxious to get home. You remember that you love your home and your life and you can't wait to get back to it. That's the moment, the emotional space, that the whole trip has been about.

For a writer, the moments after the end are about the next beginning. And I'll love it. I will love my new characters or revisiting someone from a past story who needs his or her tale told. But to get there, I have to end this story - and endings are emotionally draining and just hard. Just as a character has to tell you where to put him to start, he must tell you where to put him at the end. Since my books tending to have big, over the top, emotional rock-'em, sock-'em endings, it means I'm going to have to let my hero go to the end of his rope and past it, to the point where the knot he's tied is starting to unravel. Of course, then comes the good part, the happier ever after part. It's why I write, just like that "I can't wait to get back home" feeling is why I take a vacation. None of that makes endings easier.

Right now Adam and Evan's new tale is past the starting line and the end is nowhere in sight. It's the sweet spot of writing and - if I do it right and don't let the story I want to tell get in the way of the story my characters want told - then it'll be the sweet spot for my readers too.