Entering The Clean Up Phase

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I’ve been busy putting the final touches on the first draft for my upcoming novel, The Letter, and I’m now in what I call, “the cleanup phase.”

Something that has always bothered me with many novels is that we would reach the big climax scene, and then, once it was over, shazam! Everything magically falls back into place right then and there, and then, one or two pages later, everyone rides off into the sunset. The end.

Wouldn’t it be great if real life was as simple?

Since I’ve always strived to make my stories as realistic and believable as possible, I include a “cleanup phase,”after the big climax. This gives my characters a chance to deal with the aftermath of whatever happened during the climax. It can be as short as an epilogue, or as long as several chapters. If a character is injured, you’ll see his or her recovery. If a villain gets arrested, you’ll find out how long the prison sentence is. If someone leaves town, he or she will have the chance to say goodbye. The leading characters will work out whatever unresolved conflicts they may have. In other words, I tie up of all the loose ends. I don’t write sequels, so I want each ending to be as complete, and as satisfying as possible for the reader.

MM