My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…
THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.
Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.
There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.
Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.
Hawk strode proudly into the water and scooped up his darling mermaid. He laid a big wet kiss on her and held her close. “I told you I would be your hero, baby. Now we can spend our life together. I’ll build you a fish tank and even put a plastic castle in it for you. You’ll be my little Princess of the Sea.”
But just then, something magical happened. A brilliant flash of light blinded them. As their vision returned, they gasped to see something amazing and unexpected.
“I’m human again!” Dropsy kicked her brand new long, lovely, sleek, somehow perfectly waxed legs, where her tail had once been. “The witch’s curse is broken. Oh Hawk, I love you.” She threw her arms around his neck.
Hawk spun her around. “This will make sex less awkward.”
They had a picnic on the beach, made love, watched some Netflix, and for the first time in ages, Dropsy slept in a human bed. In the morning, they had breakfast and coffee, and he took her shopping—she bought the highest pair of stilettos she could find, and Hawk approved.
WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?
You did it! You wrote a story. You built tension, created conflict, fleshed out your characters and gave them obstacles and motivations, dropped clues where the plot was heading, brought the hero up against the villain, and the big explosion happened. In the aftermath, you should wrap everything up with a nice tidy bow—and don’t be too long about it. Once the main conflict is resolved, anything beyond should consist of putting ducks in a row and tying up any loose ends. If you drag the story on for too long after the climax, it’s going to be just that…a drag. No one cares if your characters watched Netflix after defeating a Hell Witch.
The aftermath of the climactic moment—where hopefully, everything changed—is a place to either revel in victory and take a happy, cleansing breath, or weep and mourn what has been lost and survey the damage. Not every book has a happy ending of course, but it still must be a satisfying ending, which means it makes sense and something was resolved, even if not to everyone’s advantage. After the turning point things quiet down and start wrapping up. Make sure that’s what you do, and don’t dump more story in the reader’s lap than what they want at this point.
Give your characters legs and let them run into the sunset.
Urban fantasy and paranormal romance author.