As you may recall, last week I was struggling with the end of the BP. One of my trusty readers had asked me a question that made me rethink the end, and I was considering rewriting the entire last third of the book.
The wisest writing professor I ever had once said that when struggling with a sticky writing moment, it helps to get out of your own head by describing the problem as though you’re writing an email to a friend.
I’ll take it one step further and suggest that sometimes it helps to actually send this e-mail. Your friends (or colleagues, family, neighbors, strangers) can often give you the clarity you need.
So I wrote a long, rambling email to my writing friends Abby and Veronica. Abby responded first, with an incredibly insightful e-mail that cleared up the whole issue and made me wonder why I had even considered changing the end in the first place. It was like bolt of lightening, if you will forgive the cliche. I wish I could include her illuminating e-mail here, but it would ruin the end of the BP for you, so I won’t.
In sum, I learned two important lessons last week:
1. Ask for help.
2. Trust your instincts.
With that issue settled, I can finally say that I have come to the end of the third draft. Hurrah! I’ll spend this week filling in the little gaps and revising “the horrible chapter” until it’s no longer horrible. And then at the end of the week, I shall send the BP to Abby and Veronica once again so they can tear it to shreds.
Then comes the fourth (hopefully shortest!) draft and second set of readers. And then maybe, just maybe, I’ll send the BP out into the void and see what happens.
In the meantime, here’s the peek of the week. I can’t find a passage from the end to excerpt without giving away the whole book, so here is a passage chosen at random:
The darkness was so complete Chris imagined for a moment that he had gone blind, and he rubbed his eyes as panic bubbled in his stomach. There was a click, and he could see, though barely. He had expected the crypt to be lit by torches or candles—if at all—but the light was coming from a bare bulb dangling from one of the beams above their heads.
As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, the crypt revealed itself to him inch by inch: the dirt-packed floor, then the sloping walls, then the shadows of three sarcophagi under the stairs. In his nightmares, the crypt had been a catacomb of tunnels and dank cells teeming with ghosts. But this was just a narrow dirt room, like a giant’s grave.
“Line up,” Charlie ordered. The athletes spread out along the back wall. It was damp against Chris’s shoulders and the moisture seeped through his uniform. His skin was clammy and the backs of his legs prickled. They faced the middle of the room, which was empty but for a rectangular box taller than a refrigerator and three times as wide. It was shrouded in a Swamp Plug banner, and Chris hoped it would stay that way, though he knew better by now.
Charlie set the stool next to the box and stepped up. The burlap sack writhed against his boots as he glared at the athletes, who were so quiet Chris could barely tell they were breathing. He wasn’t.
“The true measure of a champion,” Charlie said at last, “is how he performs in the face of fear.”
Chris followed the fresh wound up Charlie’s neck and with a trickle of dread, he wondered what could make a scar like that.