It’s easy to forget when writing that actually properly finishing what you’re doing is vital! Reader satisfaction is often measured by the feelings they get as they come to the conclusion. As writers it’s easy to feel such relief as the last line is finished, the last full-stop in place, but it’s actually vital that the last line, sentence, paragraph should be as carefully considered and constructed as the whole of the rest of what’s written.
… or not!
When you come to the end of your story it is not the end for you as a writer. You have to reread it, and trying to put yourself in the position of a reader who is looking at it for the first time is very difficult!
You can do this by:
- Reading it out loud (to someone else if you’re brave enough – in a secluded place if it embarrasses you!) Make sure you do actually read it aloud, don’t mumble or whisper – after a few sentences you’ll get into it and forget to be self-conscious. It is a brilliant way to spot mistakes.
- Having someone else read it out loud to you
- Having someone read it to themselves and make honest (but helpful and constructive) comments. Even if you disagree with them, it will make you think and argue for whatever it is they are criticising but you think is perfect
- Writing it or copying it onto a wpc and printing it out so you’re not reading it off the screen – seeing it in a different medium helps be objective
- Leaving it for a week and coming back to it
- Reading it, rereading it, re-rereading it, over and over
- If it’s a long story in chapters, read the last chapter, then the penultimate then the antepenultimate and so on – reading backwards helps spot inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the narrative
This will help you actually see the things that are wrong with your story and this is where the hard work begins! You want your story to be the best you can make it, rewrite, rework, cross out, delete, substitute, improve!
You will get a terrific sense of satisfaction if you produce the best story you can, that you are pleased with, that you reread and think to yourself ‘Hey, that’s quite good! Hey – I’m quite good!’
©Lois Elsden 2016