The Author as Terrorist #5: The Final Chapter

This is it! We’ve talked about how suspense authors, like terrorists, want to start with a bang, cross some lines, and keep people guessing. Now you’ve done all that. You’ve knocked ’em dead and it’s time to sneak off into the sunset, leaving the quaking townfolk to a sleepless night. How do you do it?

Terrorists who hang around to admire their handiwork tend to have short careers.  So do authors.  It can be very tempting to keep writing after the plot has really ended.  The characters are fascinating, you’ve got some great description you’ve been waiting to squeeze in, and some unused witty dialogue that makes you laugh out loud every time you read it.  Readers won’t mind a few extra scenes, will they?

Yes, they will.

Romance or literary writers can let there stories drag on a little because their novels are character-driven, so readers will generally keep reading as long as the characters are doing something interesting.  Suspense novels, however, are generally more plot-driven.  A thriller that keeps going after the last thrill is like a joke that keeps going after the punch line.  Tie up any significant loose plot threads, but do it quickly.

And when you’ve run out of things that you need to say, stop writing.

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