My mother had a thing for Paul Harvey. She loved to listen to his radio broadcasts and in particular to the stories he told. Harvey broadcast his own daily news taken from the headlines, filled with the foibles of humanity, and liberally sprinkled with items of ‘good news’ culled from the rest. His quirky intonations and down home style were charming, but what my mother loved best of all were the stories he told in parts about little known facts or anecdotes about historical events or characters or about well-known celebrities. He would weave the lines together with folksy humor or with serious challenges to think, then he would build up to an unexpected twist at the end. When he revealed it he would close with “This is Paul Harvey…and now you know the rest of the story.” Mom loved it.
People do love those little surprises that come unexpectedly, that turn expectations upside down. Stephen King advises in “On Writing” that a good writer should plant hints to the twists so that as you begin to reveal them the reader is surprised, and then is surprised at being surprised because you have pointed the way all along.
I have a number in The Call. William Walton, my writing partner, loved my ending, the twists and how I had planted clues to them. I wanted him, and everyone who will hopefully read it one day, to read the surprises and say “oh…of course.” One of my other goals was to have there be so much energy at the climax that the reader was driven to finish, and only as they thought of the ending after finishing the book would they look back and fully enjoy how many hints they had missed that were so obvious in retrospect.
The other day William called after reviewing the first three chapters of what I swear is the final draft. What he relished the most in rereading the book this time was discovering how often and how early those clues were ’embedded.’ I hope I have lived up to King’s advice and Harvey’s wisdom.
Of course before I can say to you, “and now you know the rest of the story,” about my book, I have to finish editing, write my query letter(s?) and get it published. So here is my report: First five chapters re-edited (in two parts first on a hard copy and then inputted into the computer manuscript.) 1,121 words cut so far in this my last take at tightening and clarifying. My largest effort has been shortening dialog (and sometimes even reattributing it.) The biggest challenge is in three person dialogs. It’s not easy to keep tag lines to a minimum with three characters while still being clear on who is speaking! I am striving to eliminate anything even slightly redundant or irrelevant.
I started this blog in June 2010 as I was trying to finish what I then called my book and now know was only my first draft. In February 2011 I finished that. Since then it has been send to readers, edit and re-edit. Now hopefully I am driving toward a final draft. Five chapters down, seven to go. Thanks for walking with me on my journey to ” the rest of my story.” This is Joanne Eddy…..Good day!
- The Writing Process Part 6: Cutting Your Darlings (mbweston.com)