Author Topic: Tying up loose ends without boring the reader  (Read 5635 times)

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Offline austen

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Tying up loose ends without boring the reader
« on: February 20, 2016, 10:08 AM »
I'm revising a MG mystery right now. It involves a kidnapping, and I just realized that the last chapter is mostly the victim explaining how the crime happened. I think it's a bit too much, "and this is how it happened, Bob."

I've considered cutting the chapter entirely, which would end the book right after the climax with the victim being rescued, but no blow-by-blow explanation of how the person disappeared. (The protagonist has some guesses as to how it happened but doesn't know every detail.)

So, I'm wondering how all you mystery writers end your books. Do you leave some of the hows to the reader's imagination? Do you plant the information about how it happened before the climax? I'm wondering how much I need to explain, I guess, without boring the reader.

I'm also looking for good mystery endings to study...if you have any suggestions.
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Offline dewsanddamps

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Re: Tying up loose ends without boring the reader
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2016, 03:23 PM »
This is tough, Austen, and you're right--a whole chapter of explanation could be too much.

Is it possible to bring some of that out of exposition and into dialogue (not monologue)? Could some of it be simplified? So instead of, "The two men in navy suits put me in the back of a panel van, drove 8.4 miles and turned left..." could it be more, "Those two goons you saw? They're the guys who drove me out to the old McMahon house"?

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Offline laurie-mckay

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Re: Tying up loose ends without boring the reader
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2016, 04:23 PM »
That is tricky. For what it's worth, as the reader I'd probably want to know the details. Maybe there is some way to add another element to the explanation? Possibly combine it with some sort of relationship or emotional revelations?  Good luck!
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Offline Mrs. Jones

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Re: Tying up loose ends without boring the reader
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2016, 05:23 PM »
What about the main character's closure with another character in the story? Is there a subplot that could be played out in the last chapter or two?
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Offline austen

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Re: Tying up loose ends without boring the reader
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2016, 08:39 PM »

Is it possible to bring some of that out of exposition and into dialogue (not monologue)? Could some of it be simplified? So instead of, "The two men in navy suits put me in the back of a panel van, drove 8.4 miles and turned left..." could it be more, "Those two goons you saw? They're the guys who drove me out to the old McMahon house"?

 :goodluck

Dewsanddamps, This was sort of what I was thinking, of making it more of dialogue than monologue.
I do have a minor tie-up of a subplot in that chapter as well. Hmm. You guys have given me some things to think about.
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Offline dinalapomy101

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Re: Tying up loose ends without boring the reader
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2016, 07:28 AM »
Great question!

You said that the last chapter is the victim explaining how the crime happened. WHO is the victim explaining it too? Just anyone for the sake of the reader? By this point, does the reader not know ANY of the explanation even though we just went through the whole book with your main character? I would think some of the explanation would've been revealed as the MC tries to solve the case or rescue herself, etc. So I would look into spreading it out.

And then make sure the characters who are HEARING the explanation in the last chapter have a real reason to know. Maybe Mom is one of them and we see her reaction. Maybe another is an adult who thought your MC wasn't bright, but this changes their mind. Etc.

Just some ideas. Mysteries are tough! Good luck!
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Offline austen

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Re: Tying up loose ends without boring the reader
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2016, 08:22 PM »
Ooh, I do have a character who doesn't believe the MC. I like that idea! Currently, it's the victim telling the MC, but if the victim told the adult who didn't believe the MC, that's so much better.
Hmm...I have some work to do. Thank you for the ideas!  :running
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Offline dinalapomy101

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Re: Tying up loose ends without boring the reader
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2016, 04:43 PM »
Cool! Keep us posted!
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