Endings & beginnings

I have a love/hate relationship with endings. I love them because often, they arrive with such a rush of emotion, its a fitting conclusion to whatever journey we have been. And I hate them because well, while to writers the words THE END are a sign of achievement, to the reader (or viewer in the case of movies) it’s a sign that we must let go.

When I begin writing a new story, I always begin with the end – one moment from which an entire story will be born. Why? Because as Semisonic sang in 1998 “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” I have always believed this. I have always believed that whatever happens to a character or in a story, can very well mean the beginning to something else, someone else, or even the introduction to somewhere else. A new character we will fall in love with, a new journey that will carry us on a ride of highs and lows, or even a new town whose people and places we will come to know as well as we know our own. I spend days, sometimes weeks perfecting the end and then once it’s done, start from the beginning at chapter one.

There are too many book endings I have loved over the years to even pick a few. I know it seems like a cop out, me being an aspiring writer and all. But picking one is just too hard.But I am always amazed at how other writers have come to write their endings. Do they do it as I do – start with it first? Or do they take time with it and relish in the moment? The ritual alongside the fact that its the anchor to a piece of work makes the ending of a novel a special moment.

But movie endings, now there is something to look at .

There are a few that are poetic and perfect in my eyes. Movies have visuals and music to underscore their endings, whereas in books we have imagination. Some would argue that perhaps the later is better. I don’t know, the combination of music with poignant acting gets me every time.  Take for example the end of Joy Luck Club or the epic conclusion to Star Wars Episode 3 where we learn the entire reason Darth Vadar turned to the dark side was because of love.

I also love movie endings because I learn from them. I think about everything from the dialogue to the music – I think about if I were to write such an ending, what would I do differently?

Perhaps one of my favorite movie endings is Field of Dreams. This movie makes me cry every time. It has always held a special place in my heart for reasons that are mine and mine alone. But the ending, when Ray plays catch with his father – his deceased father who passed much earlier in his life – is a moment I can never shake. It’s not just incredible that Ray is having a once in a lifetime moment to spend with someone he lost, a moment every one of us has wished for at least once in our life, but a simple display of hope’s incredible healing power, and how the simple act of playing catch can reconnect us to all we thought we lost.

Another ending I was just introduced to was the series finale of Lost. I was never a fan of the series. I didn’t watch it because there was just too much hype and I didn’t want to be caught up in it all. But with the arrival of the second year anniversary of the series’ finale, I found myself curious about the program and after reading a few articles, I  went out on a limb and even though it had been two yeas, watched the ending. I have to say, those four and a half minutes were more powerful than any TV series finale I have seen, and perhaps even movie ending. And while I never watched the show, wasn’t connected to the characters in any way, I was touched so profoundly  that it was a beautiful example of what I think an ending should be – closure, with hope.

With my first novel Aberration  now available I am nervous readers will have a love/hate relationship with its ending. But I also hope this is the case. I hope I can connect with even just one reader on such an emotional level.  If I have done this, then I know I am doing something right and perhaps focusing on the end is a great way to create new beginnings.


My take on book covers and trailers

As I move into the final stage of preparation before my first novel is available, I am reminded of the growing importance of knowing your audience and marketing to that audience.  Publishers of YA novels know their audience well. They have mastered the art of attracting readers and encouraging buzz through two simple concepts: the book cover and fan videos.

Lauren Kate’s Fallen series has probably one of the most successful case studies of this exact approach in my opinion. In honor of the forthcoming Rapture, the last book in the series due out in December (December, ugh! that long?!), I wanted to share a little bit more on why I think so.

Fallen’s cover was the very reason why I reached for the book to begin with. Sitting on a bookshelf, surrounded by dozens of vampire and werewolf series, it stuck out. It was like an Evanescence video — dark and haunting — and I needed to know what it was about. If it captured my attention, a woman in her late thirties, I could only imagine how it captured the attention of its league of readers – the screaming 16 year old girl.

I read the series and of course I was hooked. While I didn’t think it was written particularly well, I did like the story and had to know what was to come of the main character Luce, and this beyond beautiful boy she was strangely drawn to, whom we later learn is Daniel, a fallen angel who is destined to find  and lose Luce lifetime after lifetime – punishment for “something” they did thousands of years earlier.

When I started to research Lauren Kate to learn more about the series, I then stumbled onto the website which echoed the dark design of the book, with the sound of crows and wind, and a visual of the book’s setting – a dilapidated church serving as a reform school for problematic teens. But not only did I find the website creative, but the book’s community of fans as well, creating their own buzz and excitement around the series through incredible fan videos.

Tapping into this fever, publishers created contests for fans to submit their videos, which were then showcased on the book’s website. And because the community showed such excitement for the series through videos, the book’s marketing team created an incredible video trailer to tease the next book in the series, Torment. Featured on the book’s website, it served as the point of entry for the site.

Then the book cover was revealed.

And it didn’t stop there. For the third book in the series, Passion, the trailer went a step further, giving readers insight into the theme of the book, which was history and time.

And of course the book cover was incredible, finally revealing Luce’s face, which was another nod to the story, as we finally get to see in that book who Luce is and has been lifetime after lifetime.

But the trailer for the series’ conclusion, Rapture, is truly epic and worth an award in itself. While the cover has already been revealed, and isn’t one of my favorites, the trailer is truly incredible and has me on pins and needles waiting for the book.

I just watched it today for the first time so I wanted to share it with you. Of course I am an aspiring novelist so I don’t have her marketing budget as Ms. Kate. But I am trying a few fun things, and drawing my inspiration from the buzz around books that I have really enjoyed these past few years, including the Fallen series, and its epic conclusion Rapture, whose trailer I could get lost in.

Case and point.