2020 March Author to Author: Finishing Touches
2021 March Author To Author
Every story has an ending. It just takes a long time to get there. Because of how I write, both non-sequentially and across multiple character arcs, I'm often dealing with pieces from multiple puzzles all thrown into the same box. Teasing out which pieces belong together, which pieces are the chapters of the next Cherish Desire Singles title, is not always easy and definitely not predictable.
And that's top of mind as I revisit, revise, and publish Object Confessions titles.
There are stories within these collections which link together. Stories here which were supposed to have a common first word in the name so I'd remember they were linked together and chapters of the same book. And some are so close to done. Finishing is an effort unto itself though, and finishing can only begin when you acknowledge what you've forgotten.
Happily Ever After
Somewhere, some when, you probably created a character that was meaningful and important. Unfortunately, other characters were more important. They took center stage. They became what you obsessed about. They became the loud voices screaming to be written out. And that other character faded into the background.
With over two and a half million words published now, I probably have dozens of these. I anticipated the one-offs and orphans of my writing process and created series for characters that were really adjacent or simply participants in the broader universe setting of Max-verse and TomRonin-verse. Object Confessions was the first. Sexy Identities came later for stories that didn't quite fit the Object Confessions Penthouse Letters styled format, and now She Comes First covers Femdom and Domme content. If I had really planned ahead effectively, I would have aligned these with genres for easier marketing, but I'm ok with the cross-overs.
Working on Cherish Desire Singles: Object Confessions Collection 1, I really ran into the first big challenge around these unfinished story arcs. Hindsight provides insight. Out of eleven stories, Object Confessions Collection 1 contains seven stories that are the beginning of story arcs. I'd already identified and finished two of those, Cherish Desire Singles: Object Confessions - Number Nine and Cherish Desire Singles: Object Confessions - Yes, but I was struggling with introducing five story arcs which would predetermine writing work to be done within the Object Confessions series. Keep in mind, I have over forty additional stories in progress or complete for Object Confessions already in addition to the one hundred published. Piling on more is self-harm at some point. And did I really want an Object Confessions collection title dominated by stories closing off story arcs? Seems like that wouldn't be a great reader experience.
So I looked at each one. Closely. Of the five remaining starters, three had well defined narratives across continuing stories and would need multiple chapters to find closure. One was a stumble across which I had thought was a stand alone story but turns out to be linked to a second part that left things very open ended. The last though...
Here's where opportunistic writing works really well. What was destined to become Cherish Desire Singles: Object Confessions - Happily Ever After already had four chapters written. It includes a major named character and has intersections with other major characters as well. It was probably conceived as a way to provide clarity on the PDX context within the Max-verse. Somewhere along the way, maybe 2017 or so, I'd moved on to writing other things and never come back to this. Most likely because I wanted the major name character's story arc leading this arc completed. That wasn't stopping me now.
First draft to finish was probably eight to ten hours of effort. Reviewing and aligning all five chapters, including doublechecking the major name character's story arc so these dovetail nicely later, took slightly more time and thought while I was tackling publishing. With some revisions, I had a full stand alone title that took advantage of my distance from the primary character to allow her room to grow, mature, and see her past through more informed eyes. The start to finish read was very good across with all five chapters fitted together. Very much a blend of action, adventure, misadventure, and emotional impact.
The Goddess and Empress honestly prefer complete story arcs. For me, life is a bit more open ended, so I tend to write scenes or within a context of specific events. There's a balance necessary between both styles. That's really where finishing matters. Where being able to take a character from who they were to who they are is relevant. Like ordinary life, a lot of repetitive things are discarded along the way, but that evolution is what makes characters compelling for many of us. Relatable. Familiar. Sometimes... annoying. Something more for readers like Goddess and Empress. A tale of someone who experiences growth.
I couldn't have written the last chapter of Happily Ever After sooner. Now was the right time. I find that to be important across a lot of my writing as well. To know when you can't finish something, when you'd be forcing the writing down an unnatural path, is critical to acknowledge. I write a lot of things for a lot of audiences, and nothing good has come out of trying to rush something. Only regret and revisions. That makes it even more important to go back, to make notes on dangling storylines, and ask if now is the right moment to find a conclusion or resolution to what remains.
All said and done, finishing for finishing's sake probably isn't a great idea. Revisiting those characters you created but never had the time to conclude, the characters you had a vision for but couldn't quite see the path they walked, is a good way to explore the universes you've created while keeping an eye on how you might provide your readers with more. It's a way to break out of the drive to create new and to reinvent, and a way to refocus on expanding and sharing the deeper experiences involving understated presences that had meaningful impacts on your main characters. It may even leave you with a feeling of satisfaction and a sense of closure.
Until you find out how many more endings you need to write.