Saturday, July 14, 2007

Famous Last Words

I have a disease. It's making me tweak. Come on, some of you must have it too: the unbearable urge to fiddle with your words after they've been posted. How do the rest of you bloggers stand it? How do you leave your old posts alone?

Okay, I know I only have ten of them so far, and no doubt when there are hundreds of them (go, Sara! go, Sara!) I won't be able to afford the luxury of fussing over their collars or dabbing at their chins or smoothing their hair. It'll be Slam! Bang! Out the door with YOU and don't come back until dinner!

So far, I've only corrected a few spelling mistakes (I misspelled "librarians"--- in the label section, not in the main post--- but still, bad, very bad) and I've fixed a few links gone haywire. But I'm talking about wanting to do things like tweak my last lines.

Last words are important. Ask John Green. And if you're not careful, they can be so stupid they're funny, as in: "What does this button do?" But I'm not writing my own last words here. At least, I hope not. Still, the way a post concludes is important to me.

When I read a book, I'm persnickety about endings there, too. If the author doesn't wrap it up like I wanted him to, I'm miffed. I carry a grudge. I grumble about it to friends. Not so for beginnings. I'll give an author a bit more leeway there. Not so much leeway that she can slowly describe each sunbeam as it crawls over the horizon, but I'm willing to acknowledge that there are many, many different ways to enter the world of a story. Why then, does there seem to be only one "right way" to end one?

Maybe all of this is on my mind because I just wrote the last chapter of my second book. I don't know yet if I like it. So far, I haven't felt the urge to change anything about the ending of my first book, which is already hard cast into print. (If I do, I'm taking a little pill that says: forget you ever thought this thought, because I'm not dealing with that kind of anxiety.) But for now, the last lines of my second book are changeable. They're tweakable.

And really, so is this one.

7 comments:

  1. I would view tweaking blog posts and settling on the endings of books two worlds that almost don't exist in the same universe, he says having not-yet-been-published.

    I check the blog posts a couple times before hitting the button and then look them over as they will be seen by the rest of the world. If I catch something then (or more likely, when my wife catches a mistake) I'll go back and fix it. I've gone back a couple times and seen some older posts with some glaring problems and cringed so hard it hurt for days, but in the end I tell myself "It's only a blog..."

    As for endings, I'm going to have to get back to you on that. I've got a few things to finish first.

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  2. It's only a blog. It's different from books.
    It's just a blog. It's so different than a book.
    It's a mere blog. Quite different, all told, from a book.

    I'm trying to believe it. I am.

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  3. Wonderful story!!!

    The blog on a student exchange from France to Pennsylvania, USA : http://florine-aux-usa.blogspot.com/

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  4. I am very careful with the first line and closing line in my stories.

    Speaking of John Green, my favorite passage from Alaska arrives right before the book ends.

    One of my favorite Sarah Dessen passages is, in fact, the very end of The Truth about Forever.

    One of my all-time favorite novels, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is filled with amazing words and lines. The end, the beginning, the middle... but especially the end remain with readers.

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  5. Sara, HUGE congratulations for finishing your second book! Even if it's not finished-finished, getting that first pass on paper is such an accomplishment. Hurray for you!

    As for the blog, yeah, I tweak after posting. I try not to do it too much because I know some search engines alert people when I have a new post up, and I hate to burden them with four versions of the exact same one, especially when all I've done is change one sentence those four times. I kind of embarrass myself when I do that.

    These blogs seem so informal, and it's not until you see your words quoted someplace else that you think, "Wait a minute--people--even strangers--are reading this? But I was just rambling on!"

    For now I prefer to think that everyone who reads my blog is just some pal I already know. If I started imagining who's out there lurking, I'm sure I'd be a LOT more self-conscious about what I post.

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  6. Robin, just so you know: my search engine doesn't do that, so your little fixes are secret from me. And if you haven't already, go watch the video over at Fuse 8: the "authorial blooper reel." That's just how the inside of my head feels when I'm writing.

    Little Willow: You are so right about what stays with a reader. And so right to be careful with BOTH your beginnings and your endings.

    Florine: Welcome to the US! My college French has mostly left me, but I see that your blog has a giant smiley face in it, and everyone understands that!

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  7. I also found this interesting post:
    Now What: Last Lines

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