Daily Archives: June 7, 2011

The Last Leg: writing challenges

Chapter 2 of the Skeleton Key can be found at the Inner Owlet.  You won’t be disappointed by the turn of events.  Way to go A.M. Supinger!

THE LAST LEG

Some of you know my pirate chapter book has a three-legged pooch.  He has a peg leg that meets with mishaps and misfortunes along the way.  At the end of the story, he’s literally on his last leg.

Our geriatric black lab is in a similar situation.  She’s had shoulder problems for years and has struggled to walk well since the last hunting season.  Last night she started limping and refuses to put weight on her back right leg.  We’ve known for a while that she was getting close to the end of her life, as we don’t feel it’s fair to keep her alive and in severe pain.  She, too, is on her last leg.

For both these dogs, their journeys have been a series of ups and downs.  Yappy, my fictional pooch, endured shark attacks and lightning strikes.  Kallie, the seventh member of our family, survived heartworm and a hunting incident that ruined her shoulders.  They’ve also been well-loved and pampered.

It can be hard to contemplate the end, even though we all know that life does, indeed, have a definitive finish.

Just like our stories.

Sometimes we lose track of this and drag our stories out too long.   We love our characters so much that we don’t want to part with them.  We may have unfinished business to settle–one more hunting season–so we feel reassured of a Happily Ever After.

What we don’t realize is that the climax has ended and the pain has set in.  We’ve outlived our time, but don’t know how to say goodbye.

Other times, we finish too early–an unexpected turn for the worse that takes us by surprise and leaves us feeling empty and hopeless.  We lament that we didn’t get to properly cherish the last moments.  We have loose ends that need tied up, but no way to do so.  The purpose for our story–for the dog collars and leashes, food and kennels–has vanished. 

But there is a happy medium where we know the end is near and we can prepare for it.  We can say our goodbyes and feel satisfied that everything is as it should be.  I just hope we can do it gracefully when it comes time to let Kallie go.

How do you know when your story is finished?  What steps do you take to make sure the loose ends are tied up during the last leg so you don’t drag your characters–and readers–through a painful goodbye? 

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