© Marta Stephens 2011 all rights reserved
"Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book."
~ Mickey Spillane
I have a collection of favorite quotes, but every once in a while I come across one that truly speaks to me. This one, by the late Mickey Spillane, does just that.
As writers, we're constantly working on crafting that WOW opening line, that great first scene that grabs the reader and holds him to the seat of his chair. We work so hard on characterization, imagery and dialogue, but how much effort do we really put into our endings? Are they carefully planned or do we just wait to see what happens?
Sadly, by the time I get to the middle of some books, the plot has already begun to sag and when I get to the last few chapters, I'm speed reading to get to the ending as fast as the author has rushed to type, "The End."
Several years ago I read a wonderful novel. The characters came to life from the first words in chapter one, the plot held my interest, and the author's writing was brilliant.
A murder had taken place and the writer had developed a nice bit of suspense, but in the last chapter the killer volunteered a confession and explained how he had managed the crime. I was so frustrated, that I flipped back through the chapters to see if I'd actually missed the clues. Instead, I found that none of the clues had ever been mentioned or unveiled for the me, the reader, to sift through. Needless to say, I've never read that author's work again.
On the other hand, how wonderful to read a novel with an ending that takes my breath away and makes me rush to grab the author's next book.
That, I believe, is what Mr. Spillane suggest we strive for.
About the author:
Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense. She is currently working on the third book in her Sam Harper Crime Mystery series.
Her books are available in paperback and e-book and Kindle formats.
THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (2008), Bronze Medal Finalist, 2009 IPPY Awards, Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).
SILENCED CRY (2007) Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).