Inside the mind of a writer www.scskillman.co.uk

Archive for October, 2015

Is it an Author’s Responsibility to Write a Satisfying Conclusion?

How important is it for the ending of a novel to satisfy?

image credit writing4success.com

image credit writing4success.com

To what extent can an author be held responsible for this, or is it down to the heart and mind of the reader?

In 2012 I published an online article about novel endings in which I quoted Robert McKee in his excellent book Story.  He describes many different types of endings, in popular films and novels. He says the main protagonist may not achieve their desire, but ‘the flood of insight that pours from the gap delivers the hoped-for emotion… in a way we could never have foreseen.’

I believe the end to a novel must satisfy, wheher it be ironic, bittersweet, tragic, creepy, heartbreaking, chilling, shocking, tantalising or fairy-tale happy.

A good end to a story may deal out poetic justice, wisdom, truth, comedy, surprise, a frisson of terror…  but it should never be disappointing, pointless, depressing, or (worst of all, I think) unnecessary.

I believe this last charge could be levelled at Louis de Bernieres for his ending of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – a book which otherwise made a strong impact on me and which I found compelling.

Recently I’ve spoken to a few people about unsatisfying novel endings.  I heard this comment from my 17 year old son about the end to GP Taylor’s young adult novel Shadowmancer:  “I was left wondering what on earth had happened. I felt disappointed.”

I know I am not alone in my reaction to the end of Louis de Bernieres’s novel. To me, the end of the story was unnecessary and pointless; it made me feel angry. I don’t even believe that a poor ending to a novel can be justified by the notion that “well, life is like that”. Even if cruel irony plays its part in the outcome, nevertheless, we should feel that the end plays an essential part in the organic whole of the world which the novel presents.

I’ve also heard some negative reactions to the final outcome of CS Lewis’s Narnia stories.  I myself felt slightly unsatisfied and disappointed. I felt that in some curious undefined way it was “a cop-out”. Others have reacted more strongly to this disappointment. CS Lewis’s finale made them furious, having loved the books so much!

I hope that the end of my novel A Passionate Spirit will satisfy. Whether it will chill, or shock, or surprise… I’ll leave that up to you, my future reader!

A Passionate Spirit About to Go to Print!

Passionate Spirit cover design

Passionate Spirit cover design

My new novel A Passionate Spirit is about to go to print, after several rounds of revision to the typeset proofs.

I’ve recently been contacted by a journalist who sought my permission to quote me in a book he’s writing – and coincidentally I’ve also quoted him in an appendix to my novel! He wanted to quote from a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago, on a subject which is relevant to my story.

It was fortunate that he did contact me because not only was I happy for him to quote me, but was also able to check the appendix over with him and then submit a couple of changes to the typeset proofs.

Publication dates grows ever nearer now (28 November) and the next stage will be for me to check the list of media contacts who’ll receive my Press Release. Then the manuscript will also be converted into an ebook and once approved, will be uploaded to Net Galley.

If you’re a member of Net Galley do seek out A Passionate Spirit there in a few days’ time and download your free copy for review!

Signs and Omens at Gloucester for A Passionate Spirit

Many have through the centuries seen signs or omens from the natural world.

A view of Gloucester Cathedral

A view of Gloucester Cathedral

In my article on Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes “How Can Carl Jung’s Theory of Archetypes Help You In Your Creative Writing?” which I wrote for ezine articles in January 2012, I mention the archetype of the animal spirit guide/messenger. This runs as a theme through all mythology, appearing everywhere from aboriginal legend to ancient Greek thought to the Bible to classic literature.

Here’s what I wrote then on the theme of the animal spirit messenger:

“…the Bible of course makes use of this theme too by giving the Dove a key role as a guide; and as a symbol of peace, love, the Holy Spirit. Another example is the Raven. “To have a raven’s knowledge” is an Irish proverb meaning “to have a seer’s supernatural powers”. The Raven was banished from the Ark by Noah – but it returned later on in the Old Testament to feed Elijah in the wilderness.”

The Raven Centre in Gloucester

The Raven Centre in Gloucester

I make use of the theme of the Raven in my new novel A Passionate Spirit.

Yesterday I was in Gloucester where I visited the local branch of Waterstone’s on my Cotswolds bookstore tour.

Gloucester has many historical locations, and so I was tempted to take several photos. When I viewed my photo of Gloucester Cathedral I noticed that my camera had caught a large bird on the wing, flying past the Cathedral.

Bird flies past Gloucester Cathedral

Bird flies past Gloucester Cathedral

Then I turned round and discovered that the  lovely timbered building behind me was called The Raven Centre.

A fanciful coincidence? Or maybe a beautiful sign or good omen?  I choose to hope so!

A Passionate Spirit Full Cover

I was delighted to receive the full cover for my new novel this week:

A Passionate Spirit full Cover

A Passionate Spirit full Cover

I’ve just sent back my third set of corrected typeset proofs to Matador and await the new proofs. When I’ve approved them, the book can go to print.

Don’t forget you can pre-order the book now, either from Matador or from Amazon!

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