I’ve reached the point in the book I’m working on where I need to figure out exactly how I’m going to end it. I know the final result, but how I get there and what the climactic scene looks like is kind of hazy. I was working on plotting it and struggling to put it all together when I got insight from an unlikely source: the trailer for season 3 of The Mandalorian.
It occurred to me that the story I’m writing is in some ways a lot like The Mandalorian. There’s a lot of “except for” and “but if instead” there, to the point that it’s not really like it at all, but the important thing for my purposes is that it centers on an isolated loner who takes responsibility for a vulnerable orphan. In all my outlines and character development, the fact that this guy is a loner is key, and his character arc is supposed to be him learning that he can’t go it alone and he’s stronger when he teams up with others.
And yet, very early in the story, when he gets stuck helping this young woman travel to a place that will be safe for her, his first thought is that she might be able to help him with the thing he needs to do. He then wants her to stick around. This is why it was so hard for me to plot the end. He completed his character growth arc in the first quarter of the book. That left me with no big turning point for the end.
Commence head banging on desk.
Oddly, I’d set up Chekhov’s entire arsenal to show that he was going to have a hard time working with someone else earlier in the book. We saw him have to take responsibility for someone else and immediately dump that individual with the first potential new home, which set up the way we expect him to act later. And then I forgot about it entirely. I did have some story reasons for taking the route I did, since there is some conflict and deception involved with him planning to get her to help but manipulating her into being the one to offer, but that’s not really what I want to do with this character. His character arc isn’t about him being manipulative. I’d have to change a lot more to set that up, and it would be a totally different story.
Fortunately, I know how to fix it, and it adds a lot more conflict along the way. Although this character is actually very little like the Mandalorian (not a bounty hunter who belongs to a strict warrior religion), I should put a picture of him on my desk to remind me that it’s supposed to take him some time to really warm up to this individual he feels responsible for, and even longer to figure out that this individual might have something to offer him instead of just being a burden. My Star Wars obsession seems to be good for my writing.
Now I’m going back and fixing the book so I can move forward in the right direction and maybe get a running start on writing the ending.