one frickin’ line!

Oh, Coyote, we meet again.

yipyipyip

You have taught me many life lessons, you little son of a…gun.  This time you came disguised as Chapter 24 of my WIP.  Started out at 600 words.

Ended up with 2000.

How did it happen?  Gather ‘round children, let this Storyteller amaze you with her song…

fromjemez

Once there was a young and beautiful writer.

authorescapingthetiger

But this story is about a somewhat older and it’s-what’s-on-the-inside-that-counts-writer.

yesiamcreepy

Now this writer had a fabulous story to tell.  She loved every bit, every nuance that flowed from her stubby fingers onto her dusty laptop keyboard.  Even that obnoxious chapter nine, which she had threatened to send to the orphanage.  But one day…

One horrible, odious, no good day…

darkandstormynight

She ran into chapter 24.

Chapter 24 was meant to be a filler.  A toss-off.  A mere sprinkle on the cupcake of  our heroine-writer’s opus.  It only needed a last line.  One pithy little bon mot to transition us into chapter 25, where all Hello-Kitty was going to break loose.  One stinkin’ sentence.  How hard is that?  Turns out—virtually impossible.  Our writer-lady futzed with that line for 2 days.

Nothing.

So our auteur decided to back up one paragraph.  Get a running start.  Invert subject and predicate.  Move the characters around.  Roll play.  Hypnotize herself.  Drop acid.

(Okay, maybe not the last one.)

Empty.

Only thing to do?  Back up some more.  Another paragraph.  Another beat.  The entire scene.  And once the scene was longer and more satisfying, well, it outweighed the rest of the chapter, didn’t it?

Two days and a complete rewrite later, the perfect final sentence for chapter 24 practically wrote itself.

That’s how you work, don’t you, Coyote?  You make us learn things the hard way, you sorry sack of…

Writer-lady-woman-girl learned the hard way…

IF YOU CAN’T COME UP WITH A SATISFYING LAST LINE FOR YOU CHAPTER, IT MAY BE A WARNING SIGN THAT YOU HAVE NOT EXECUTED YOUR STORY ARC PROPERLY.

* Disclaimer: Length of time spent suffering has been greatly exaggerated for your reading pleasure.

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About Lisha Cauthen

Lisha Cauthen writes YA novels for guys that girls like to read too.

Posted on September 24, 2009, in writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. This is deep. You never really think about these things sitting down to write. So many people say to just write, but what happens when you can’t come up with that last line? Thanks for this.

  2. My God, you’re deep, woman. (And hot too.)

  3. Wow. Loved your tale of the “One Frickin’ Line”! I actually saw the sprinkles on the cupcake. And I wasn’t on LSD either. Great writing! Happy to get to know you. Sydney

  4. Gosh. Writers are nice people, aren’t they?

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