The End by Guest Blogger, Elle Cosimano

Note from Donna:
This weekend, I am attending the SCBWI winter conference. My amazing editor, Aimee Friedman, AND my fantastic agent, Sarah Davies, are both speaking at the conference. However, that isn't the only exciting thing going on in New York. Today, I have the opportunity to tour the Scholastic building for the first time and meet with the publicity and marketing people helping bring SKINNY to the world. So I'm going to introduce you to our guest blogger today, Elle Cosimano. Elle, Talia and I are all represented by Greenhouse Literacy Agency and Elle just sold her debut novel in a preempt to Dial.


"Fortunate people often have very favorable beginnings and very tragic endings. What matters isn't being applauded when you arrive - for that is common - but being missed when you leave."  -- Baltasar Gracian

Oh, the pressure!

As writers, we're obsessed with the significance of an unforgettable first line, a powerful hook, and perfect opening pages. We lose months of sleep over the precise moment when our story should begin.

The importance of the right beginning is drilled into us early on.

At cocktail parties, we say, "I'm writing a book." Rarely do we say, "I've finished one."

And even after we've written 80,000 words, it's the first ten pages the agent requests. Never the last. As if our credibility as a writer is rooted somewhere in the beginning of a book.

Meanwhile, the end lurks like a monster under the bed. It's the scary, dark thing none of us like to talk about. We're not really sure the end exists. And we're too afraid to look, because... well... what if it doesn't? Maybe that's scarier than all the other shadowy, undefined monsters we've imagined while staring at the ceiling. All we can be sure of is our fear of it.

After we throw back the covers and look under the bed -- after we stare down the monster and wrangle it to submission -- who are we then?

Are we still aspiring? There's so much hope in that title, isn't there? It's the nightlight. The security blanket. The woobie!

Or are we what we fear most? Finished. Done. Writer of an unsold book.

Why are so many of us afraid to say,"I've written a book," as if that implies some degree of failure? Or maybe just opens the door to the possibility of it?

I've met so many writers who've been working on their books for years, writing only beginnings and revising them over and over, as if the secret to banishing the monster is hidden somewhere in the opening chapters. When they don't find what they're looking for, they move on and begin another story. These writers are the same ones who ask, "How did you do it so fast?"

My answer?

I finished it. That's it. No iron-clad secrets. No catchy hook.

It's easier to build sweet dreams out of aspirations than to build a career out of the reality of rejection, and maybe even failure. But the only way to conquer the monster is to face it. The confidence we seek isn't hidden in beginnings. Anyone can write a beginning. Only the fearless will make it to

The End.

Elle Cosimano
DEAD BLUE (Dial/Penguin, Fall 2013)


I was nodding as I read this. Because it's all so true. Sigh.

Thanks Elle for contributing to the blog this week! And your post is brilliant precisely because it's so true. As someone who struggles to finish a first draft, I understand the courage it takes to get to the end.

Thanks Elle for contributing to the blog this week! And your post is brilliant precisely because it's so true. As someone who struggles to finish a first draft, I understand the courage it takes to get to the end.

Thanks, Talia. I'm honored to be here.

And you know, I still struggle with this too. Once I pass the halfway mark, those self-doubts start rearing their ugly heads. Is it any good? Should I shelve it? Will it get rejections? It seems like the last lap always requires a pep talk in the mirror and a lot of extra comfort food, but I try not to let myself work backward or start major revisions until I get through ANY rendition of an ending, no matter how terrible I think it is. There's a real confidence boost in feeling like I crossed that finish line.

Love this post, Elle,

It's so true. I find it a lot easier to come up with the 'brilliant idea' and get into the story than to actually finish -especially to the same standards as the beginning, which has undergone 100 rewrites just so that an agent will ask to see beyond the first ten pages:)

Oh, how I needed this post right now, Elle, and your comment above about losing confidence in the middle! Usually I'm okay with the endings I want to write, but for the first time am having doubts and need that pep talk and chocolate! Hearing that others have the same problem helps.

Thank you for coming by today, Elle! And you're right, the pressure of ending is just as great as the pressure of beginning.

AMEN! Thanks for your brilliant insights, Elle.

True story. Writing every ending is indeed an accomplishment.

And, if you ask me (and no one has, but I'll throw my thoughts out there anyway, for whatever they're worth.) (which is nothing), endings are as crucial as beginnings...and perhaps more difficult to do well.

In fact, IMHO, more promising stories (novels and movies) fall apart at the end and leave me with a bad aftertaste, dissatisfied, disappointed.
And writing them, getting them just right, is, for me, where I spend the most time in revisions.

Fab guest post, L.<3 You know how excited I am for you and your book deal!


I completely agree. So many people spend time wallowing in this endless cycle of revising their beginning that they never even get to the end or, when they do, they rush through it, so that the end isn't nearly as polished as the beginning (or the beginning is overly polished). There's definitely a balance there, and Lola is right: the ending is just as important as the beginning! The beginning might get you started, but the ending stays with you.

In the same line of thought as Heather & Lola, I've heard the saying, "The beginning gets a reader to read THIS book, the ending gets them to read all your others."

Ah, shoot. That would've been a perfect subject for me to write about on Friday. Dang. Oh well.

Great post, Elle! Thanks for coming by today. And I can't wait to read DEAD BLUE! It sounds incredible!

Bret - you should write that post on Friday! I have the same thoughts and was torn over which to write about. Like Heather, I do believe the end stays with us. It's what we remember as readers. And you're so right when you say it keeps that reader thinking of you beyond the last page. WRITE that post, because I sure want to read it!

Veronica - THANK YOU! Huge smile reading that!

The monster lurking under the bed! Elle, you've put a fine point on exactly the fear many of us have. And you're spot-on. We MUST throw back those covers, expose the horrible creature, toss it out on its ear and finish our books! We owe it to ourselves.:)

You nailed it Elle. I can totally relate to having to push myself through to the end of this first ms. This post was perfect timing as I muddle through the middle and get to the end. Thanks!

I often think that this is true for a lot of us; as writers we are often afraid to say "I have written a book", because we know that people will start asking us if it is or when it will be published, or where they can find it, etc. And that feels overwhelming because we think the book is crap and just want to throw it in the fireplace rather than ever let anyone see it. In order to get ahead in this business, we have to get past that negativity, at least enough to say "I've done it. It may not be perfect, but the main part is done." Revision works wonders--but you must have something to revise in order for the process to work :)

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