If Walls Could Talk: Troublesome Climaxes and Know-It-All Editors

M.H. Norris

For a bit longer than I really want to admit, I’ve been working on my short story for All The Petty Myths. I fell in love with the character, Dr. Rosella Tassoni—but for some reason, this story has turned into the story that won’t end. Every time I think I’m done, or that I’m almost done, surprise, something else needs fixing.

James and I have really been going back and forth on the story, “Midnight,” and the real problem is the climax. At times, not only was I justifying the end to James, I was having to justify it to myself. I was selling myself short because I just want the story to be done. But that’s not fair to me as a writer nor is it fair to you as a reader.

There are reasons that the easy way out is so tempting.

As I said, we were going back and forth about the ending and after an argument where we ended up agreeing to disagree, James comes to me and says that the entire climax needs to be rewritten.

We then proceed to spend time mapping out a rough outline of the new climax and I’m sitting here wondering, what happened to me being almost done with this story?

The easy route is so easy. The story is alright with the ending it has now and then I don’t have to work on it anymore. I get to check off yet another story and move on to the next.

Yet that is the easy way out for a reason.

By taking James’ advice and rewriting the ending, I get to show you all a stronger, better story. Plus, I’ve also built up a bit of a reputation for having strong climaxes and I know I can do better than what I have right now.

Rabbit trail time. If you haven’t already, one thing you need, as a writer, is a good editor, one you can trust. And before you tell me that it’s easy to find editors, let me add a caveat. You need to find a good editor that you can trust. I’ve done it both ways and the writing process is so much easier if you trust your editor versus working with one cold turkey.

They know when to knock you aside the head (literally or metaphorically) and tell you that you can do better and that it needs to change. And as annoyed as you get at them when they tell you this, you appreciate it at the end of the day.

Even as writers, we let ourselves fall for the trap of thinking of the glamorous sides of writing. We see the aha moment of coming up with an idea for our next story, the triumph of finishing it, and the satisfaction of our friends and family coming and telling us that they enjoyed the finished project.

I’ve said it here many a time. I tend to block out the not-so-glamorous sides of writing. Ask James. We’ve apparently had the same conversation multiple times because I’ve blocked them out with the things they involve.

But it’s part of the writing process and as much as I hate to, I tend to find myself hoping James doesn’t outright say “I told you so” when his suggestions are actually a good idea.

So far he hasn’t said it.

We’ll see how long my luck holds.