The great Yogi Berra is famous for many sayings, my favorite being: When you come to a fork in the road, take it. But he never said anything about a hard left.
But that’s what happened to my story. After thinking about it for nearly a week, I’ve decided: the old ending is out, like a baseball player trying to score from third. And there’s a new finish to the novel. Yeah, very new.
The new ending make Entertaining Welsey Shaw a very different story. A darker one, and a more—pardon the pretentious word, but it’s true—existential one. But that’s the way things have to go, I’ve decided.
It’s odd how characters start talking to you after a while. And what seemed right for them in Draft One is no longer right in Draft Two. The ending had been ringing hollow for some time; I’d stopped working and even floated a different resolution, one that had some advantages and some disadvantages. But what stopped it was reality. It involved Welsey hurling a cell phone, in anger, into the face of my protagonist, hitting his teeth and cutting his lips. Then Elin Nordegren beat me to it. Seriously, she ruined my ending.
My latest ending puts a new spin on many of the events that happened earlier. This is not the novel I envisioned and started tentatively writing two years ago. That was going to be short. It was a novelette originally. What I have now certainly isn’t epic (it may break 100,000 words; with this new ending, maybe not), but it’s more complicated, and has more characters and twists, than the first draft. I had wanted it to be largely plotless—just a series of conversations and reflections. That vision is long gone.
I’d like to hear from some other writers out there: what do you do? When you come to a fork, do you take it? When your idea changes so that even you barely recognize some of it, what do you do? Do you figure your original raw idea was really the best and stick with it, or do you go with your new thoughts, even if they mean you are not writing the same work anymore? Post and tell us about how you handle your creative processes.