The closer I get to the end of a book, the more it starts feeling like a balancing act. I’m down to it now with Before and After the Wedding, weighing everything, and arguing with myself about the direction to take.
I’m not sure if this process is helped or hindered by knowing the story inside and out—the characters’ thoughts and motivations, the theme, the arc… Because what I’m really balancing here is the reader experience, and the reader of course doesn’t know any of this stuff beforehand. Fortunately I have a few trusted first readers to give me an outsider’s perspective, but they invariably have different opinions, so now it’s up to me to make the hard decisions.
Of course, I will fail. *le sigh*
Not for all readers (hopefully extremely few!), but for some. No writer, I’m convinced, can write something so clear and precise everyone will experience it the exact same way. I’m not even sure you’d want that, even if it were possible—it’d have to be an extremely detail-laden book. But even then, people will still have different impressions of the characters, because we all judge others based on our own experiences.
Besides, isn’t part of the fun of reading that some of the creativity and imagination comes from yourself?
Anyway, I still try to convey my own vision of the book as clearly as possible—explaining and showing things the “right” amount. Not so little that it becomes confusing, but not so much I beat you over the head with it either.
And that’s what the balancing act is all about—debating whether I’ve foreshadowed the Major Twist enough. Or if that scene where they argue shows their motivations too much—or too little. Or if the hot scene goes on too long…
So, yeah, that’s what I’m doing these days—arguing with myself.
On the upside, I always win. 🙂