One of my beta readers read the most recent chapter I’ve written of Wizards and told me that it reads like this could be the end of the book. Which makes sense. This is the… well, action climax of the book. And for… reasons… there’s an emotional climax at the same time. So, yeah. Feels kinda like the end. Except it’s too soon. There’s like a quarter of the book left.
I knew this was going to happen. Which, on one hand, is reassuring — being aware of the issues is a good thing — but also makes me give myself the squinty eye and demand, Okay, hotshot, if you knew it was coming why didn’t you DO something about it?
The answer is that this is how the story works. This climax needs to happen and what happens next needs to happen. This book is all about balance between the two main characters, getting them to the same place. This climax hits action/backstory for one character and emotion for the other, I still need the other side.
So now I have a couple of options. I can mess with the order of things and pull the bulk of the next section in before this climax (do-able, I think). Or I can punch it. Let you feel the drama, grab a breath, start to calm down… and then shove you up the hill and over the edge of the cliff.
And let’s be honest, that’s the more appealing option (if I can pull it off). It even gives me more space with the denouement cause you’ll be standing there wavering, panting for breath but still all tense, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I quite like leaving the reader in the same headspace as the characters.
There is always the risk though, that if I give a reader half a moment to catch their breath at this point they might put the book down. (P.S. You should read that phrase in the same tone of voice that would go with, We will be sucked into a black hole and DESTROYED or We’re out of COFFEE.)