Of the many friendly criticisms I've received of my two books over the years, the one that always rings true is that I don't need to be in such a hurry to end my stories ... and I'll be damned if I'm not guilty of just that this third time around.
After passing the new manuscript past some eyes other than my own, I've come to realize that my ending just doesn't quite cut it. And so the plan now is to retain as much of the original ending as possible -- with a few tweaks here and there -- while going back into the body of the piece to fatten up some spots that could make the whole thing work. I'm actually excited about the prospect of doing this as I head into the second draft process next week, which consists basically of incorporating some of the previously mentioned edits, with the third draft scheduled to begin as I take the manuscript with me to Key West, Florida during the second week in December.
I have noticed, however, that I have a natural order of things that I ease into when I'm finishing the actual writing of a book, and so far, it always leads to one of the characters having a conversation with the person at the center of the conflict, and then that character reflecting on the events of the big picture.
At the end of The Petrified Christ, Daniel Foster has his conversation with ... well ... someone ... and then reflects back on the entire story while in his office at Loyola, laying down some conclusions on his personal theology to the once abrasive graduate student Rodney, and then wandering out of the building into the night. Scenes from the Blanket has a similar ending, in which Blake Worthington, after having confronted the architect of the curse and the curse itself, takes his thoughts to paper as we're given one of many glimpses into his personal journal, and thus, a conclusive wrap-up of where his head is. And I'll just say that my third book has a similar ending, although I won't say who has the conversation and who does the reflecting.
It's the rhythms that fascinate me when it comes to writing, be they organic -- in which characters seem to take on lives of their own, doing and saying things that you never intended before you sat down to write them -- or constructed, as is the case with my current end trend. I'm content with it, though, and I figure that if these three books are going to make up some sort of Blanket Trilogy, then it feels right to have this common thread running through all three.