When I’m nearing the end of a book I love, I can’t help myself — I start reading faster and faster, gulping down words as quickly as possible, until I don’t even notice that I’m turning pages, until I don’t even realize that I’m reading words and not just absorbing Story directly into my brain.
When I wrote my first book, I assumed that writing the ending would work the same way. All that momentum I’d built up, all that unresolved tension…I assumed that I’d be galloping towards “The End” at breakneck speed, fingers flying across my keyboard, meals and cats forgotten in the flurry of words.
For me, writing goes slower and slower near the end of a book. All that weaving together of Story into one great culmination of internal and external arcs… it’s kind of hard. “Swimming through molasses” is how I hear lots of writers describe it. Every sentence is a struggle, every completed sentence a victory.
But I think there’s another time dilation at work with novel endings…at least for me.
Because the reader is experiencing the ending so quickly, I feel like I need to slow down the action, to spend more time describing each moment of it. I can’t afford to have the reader overlook an important detail or insight or character revelation. It’s my last and only chance to bring everything together. Quick endings feel abrupt, and abrupt rarely feels satisfying.
How about you? Do you experience any sort of time dilation at the end of a novel — either as a reader or a writer? Or…is it just me?