Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting the meaning of denouement

Denouement is the French word for the final scenes of a play or novel. In English, we call it the climax, I think, because we're keen on the giant cymbal crashing of the final events. But denouement comes from the verb that means to unknot or untie, and it focuses on resolving all the unexplained mysteries. And that's what I've been working on the last two Writing Fridays for my novel, Fog of Dead Souls. How did the killer have the deadman's sperm? How did he track the college professor? How did the detective follow her?

My experienced mystery writing reader also had questions about loose ends and had said that the final scene was unsatisfying so I've spent today rewriting it and really coming to understand my killer in a way I hadn't before. It was fun writing and fun thinking. When Ed first suggested I delve into his motivation, I balked. I hadn't wanted to go to that dark place (as I imagined it to be). But like so many things in writing, it turned out not to be that way at all. And I grew to like the killer for his honesty and wit.

I also wrote a synopsis today and that was helpful for seeing all the parts of the plot and I think it was a good preparation for rewriting the ending. Though when you're writing a novel that runs two parallel stories in different time frames, it's a big tricky. I'm getting these last pieces in order so I can send off the requested pages to the agents I met two weeks ago. As I worked on the synopsis, I could see other places where I might take the story deeper, but I think I'll see what these agents have to say before I work on it any further.

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