Saturday, February 16, 2013

Guest Spot: Kim Fielding

Today, please welcome Kim Fielding, here to discuss endings, Pancake Parts (what a great term!), and her new release, Venetian Masks - available in paperback and e-formats.

Read on for more:

Pancake Parts

I love starting stories. Starting stories is easy. It’s finishing them that’s tough. I don’t mean I have trouble finding the discipline to complete something—I usually manage that much—but I mean I have a hard time finding the exact right way to end a story.

Back in my fanfic-writing days, I wrote an angsty, epic, novel-length story in which the heroes were imprisoned and tortured but ultimately managed to vanquish Ultimate Evil.  In my original version, they returned from an alternate dimension, battered but triumphant, and of course secure in their mutual love. 

Then they went to sleep. And in the morning they made pancakes. I sent the story off to my beta and she told me to lose the pancake scene. I did, and the story was better for it. So now I think of unnecessary epilogues as the Pancake Parts.

Did you see the Lord of the Rings movies? I did, and I liked them a lot. Except the ending, which dragged on for eons. I kept thinking, Okay, it’s over now, and then there would be yet another scene of people saying goodbye or returning to their lives. I was relieved when the damn thing finally ended. The Pancake Parts in that trilogy were waaaay too long, and they ruined the story’s dramatic tension.

I can understand the urge to write Pancake Parts. I fall in love with my characters and am hesitant to leave them. Besides, I’m just as curious as anyone about What Happens Next. But like robins pushing fledglings from the nest or parents telling their twenty-somethings to move out of the basement and get a job, writers too must come to a point when they must let their characters move on.

Finding the point is the secret. For me, it’s often just after the final conflict is resolved and the major plot points wrapped up. That doesn’t mean all the questions in the world are answered; it just means this story is done. Dragging things out may be tempting—what did the boys have for breakfast the next day?—but I think it ultimately weakens the story. As either PT Barnum or Walt Disney said (my Internet sources differ on this point), always leave ’em wanting more.

I’ve had readers ask me What Happens Next after the conclusion of Speechless or Brute or some of my other tales. And I have to tell you, these questions delight me because they mean my characters are as real to readers as they are to me.  Nobody wants me to say, “Well, you can imagine whatever adventures you want now.” So, you know, if it’s killing you to know where Aric and Gray go next, you can always email me. J

Now, sometimes there can be more to a story that isn’t a Pancake Part. If there’s a little more to be said—some important loose threads—I’ll write an epilogue. I just finished the draft of a novel in which the final chapter takes place more than two years after the rest of the action. This is because a few final points needed to be made, and those points took time to develop. And if there’s a lot more to be said, well, then we have a sequel or two. My first novel, Stasis, became the first entry in a trilogy, and I’m working on a sequel to my novel Good Bones in which we’ll learn more about Chris’s family and werewolf Andy’s history, among other things. But each of these sequels has conflicts and issues of its own, and so the rhythm works.

I think what I strive for most is for every book to end at exactly the right point: that shining moment when all is resolved but the characters’ next story is just about to begin. My newest novel, Venetian Masks, ends exactly as it begins, with an international plane flight—but a whole lot of things have happened in between. 

And if you want to know what Jeff has for breakfast the next day, it’s not pancakes. I think he’s more in a bacon and eggs sort of mood. 

Venetian Masks is available from Amazon, Dreamspinner Press, and other online booksellers. 

Jeff Dawkins’s last partner left him with a mortgage he can’t afford and nonrefundable tickets for a month’s vacation in Europe. Despite a reluctance to travel, Jeff decides to go on the trip anyway. After all, he’s already paid for it. He packs a Kindle loaded with gay romance novels and arrives in Venice full of trepidation. There he meets the handsome and charming expat Cleve Prieto, who offers to serve as his tour guide. Jeff has serious misgivings—he wasn’t born yesterday, and something about Cleve doesn’t sit right—but anything is better than wandering the canals alone. With Cleve’s help, Jeff falls in love with Venice and begins to reconcile with his past. For the first time, Jeff finds himself developing strong feelings for someone else. But he can’t be sure who that person is because Cleve’s background remains a mystery embroidered with lies.

Then a dark figure from Cleve’s past appears, and Jeff must choose whether to let Cleve flee alone or to join him on a desperate run through central Europe. Maybe Jeff will finally be able to see behind Cleve’s masks—if he survives the journey.

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