Chapter 20: Something new
POV character: Stuart
Length: 5,686 words
Read: Click here to read (PDF)
It’s Earth Day and in the Captain’s quarters the beautiful unspoken girl Kara is finally unveiled to the gathered nobility. She is to be the Captain’s future wife – the so-called savior of the ship and all its woes. But not everyone is happy about it.
Stuart watches from his hiding place, fascinated by the events unfolding in the rooms below. He wants to keep watching and find out what happens next but unfortunately there are more pressing concerns. His captor is becoming increasingly suspicious of Stuart. She questions him, pressing him for answers that come a little too close to unveiling his secret.
At the same time, Stuart’s connection with the ship is starting to unravel. He knows that he needs to fix these rooms quickly if he is to have any hope of stabilizing the connection, but to do that he’s going to need to get rid of his captor.
Stuart finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place, forced to tread a difficult middle ground between the woman’s inquiry and the voice’s erratic demands to simply wash his hands of her and walk away for good.
I know – you don’t need to say anything. This chapter is extremely late in coming.
No excuses. True, I’ve been late with chapters before but this one was more than two weeks overdue. Two weeks! I’m sure on the surface it just looks like I’m slouching, especially considering the post I made not two months ago about how well my progress has been going of late. I’m sure you guys are just rolling your eyes thinking, “See? I knew he’d mess up.”
I know it’s what I’m thinking about myself.
What makes it even more frustrating is that I’m almost certainly going to miss my original deadline of finishing this book by my birthday. In fact, at my current writing speed I’ll be lucky to get it out before Christmas. That makes me sad to report.
So why the sudden slow down?
Well there are a number of reasons, a couple of which I’ll be posting about later this week, but the main reason is simply due to the fact that writing an ending is much harder than I thought it would be.
And to be fair, I had no way of knowing that in advance. I mean, I’ve written a lot of beginnings over the years. Dozens of the things. I have whole folders full of files on my PC made up of nothing more than novels I started and then abandoned long ago. It’s safe to say at this point that when it comes to writing story openings, I am something of a master. I’m pretty good at middles too.
Endings though? Not so much. In fact, this will be just the third time that I’ve reached one.
George R. R. Martin once said that writing a novel is a bit little going on a train journey. You know where your train is starting from and you know where your journey is going to end but you don’t know much about the journey in between. You don’t know, for example, what stations you’ll be stopping at. You don’t know what interesting people you might see on the train. You know nothing about the scenery you’ll be passing through. All you know is where you’re starting and where you’ll finish. The rest you leave to the journey.
I’ve always felt much the same way with my own writing. For me, the end of the story is usually one of the first things that pops into my head when I’m still in the drafting stage. First I come up with an interesting setting. Then I’ll place a character into that setting and – pow, just like that – there’s a story with a logical end materializing before my eyes. It’s like entering a complex sum into a calculator. You already know what the answer is because it’s written there on the screen.
Now you just need to show your workings.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I always assumed that just because I knew what the ending of this book was going to be, it would somehow make it easier to write. I’ve spent such a long time battling with this novel’s middle section. I’ve chopped out whole characters. I’ve rewritten huge chunks of the plot and completely reworked how A gets to B. It was a really hard slog but in the back of my mind I would always be thinking, “At least I know where my ending is. All I need to do is write X more chapters and then I’ll be there!”
Often it was the sole thought that kept me writing.
Now I realise the truth. Just because I know what’s going to happen in my book, doesn’t make it any easier to write. I still have loads of plot threads to tie up. I still have momentum to maintain. I have secrets to reveal and pages to keep turning. I have readers to satisfy.
Writing an ending is hard.
But – and this is important – at least I know that I will get there eventually. Because the fact is that I am near the end and I do know what’s going to happen when I get there. At this point I know that there aren’t going to be anymore surprises. There aren’t going to be any random characters appearing out of nowhere or sudden sub-plots taking the story in some whole new direction. For the first time, I’m writing with my face fully turned in the direction I’m traveling. It’s terrifying and it’s a lot of hard work but for the first time I can finally see that train station looming into view.
I just need to get the train there now. Even if it means getting out and giving it a push.