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Almost The End

By Robin Kaye

Last night I met with my critique partners and went over the changes I’ve made to On the Wild Side. As I crawl toward the end of a book—sometimes it feels as if I’m crawling over glass—I find myself going back to tweak a scene here and there, just adding a line or two, or a thought to up the tension or connect the dots so that the big black moment is indeed black and not gray.

Although I’m adding a ton of words, it feels as though I’m making little forward progress. A few books ago, I’d probably be freaking out right about now, but since this is my 5th, I’ve learned that ‘looks’ can be deceiving. In a blink of an eye I’ll be typing those dreaded words: The End.

Why dreaded, you might wonder. You’d think I’d be thrilled to complete yet another manuscript. Believe me, part of me will be doing my version of the Snoopy Happy Dance while another part morns the loss of my characters. I’ve spent the last six months in their heads. I know their life stories, I’ve laughed and cried with them and soon, I’m going to have to say goodbye. The problem is, I love them and I don’t want them to go away.

Every time I finish a book, I gather the files of research, notes, pictures and whatever else I have laying around and put everything in a box. I swear that every time I do this, I feel as if I’m at a funeral.

The other day I was interviewed with two other lovely romance writers, Kathy Love and Eliza Knight, for a Valentine’s Day article. After the reporter left, we sat at Starbucks and chatted. We were talking about how difficult it is to finish a book and Eliza mentioned a blog I’d written almost three years ago on this very subject. I was amazed she’d not only read it but remembered it. Here’s what I said:

I remembered a conversation I had with a friend. We went to see a romantic comedy and after the movie, as the credits rolled, we dissected it. One of the comments he made was he thought the movie should have ended well before it did. He said it was a fault he found in many books and movies, and then asked me, as a writer, why I thought that happened.

I had just finished writing Romeo, Romeo and I knew exactly why it happened and happened often. Writers don’t want to lose the characters they’ve created, nurtured, and loved. They become a huge part of a writer’s life, and if the writer were to keep a relationship with the characters after the book was finished, he or she would be considered insane. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

If we writers are guilty of anything, it’s caring about our characters too much. When I finish writing the book, my relationship with my characters end. I always feel I’ve lost a dear friend, and saying goodbye doesn’t get any easier. As I prepare myself to say goodbye to Toni and Hunter, the only bright side I see is that when I start my next book in the Domestic Gods Gone Wild series, I know I’ll have them drop by for a visit.


  1. Robin, I have maybe two dozen completed Regency MSs, and my foundation hero--Gareth, Marquis of Heathgate, is still making cameo appearances, pulling strings behind the scenes, and otherwise dropping in to make sure we're all behaving. I'm pretty certain once they get to know him, my readers will want to keep tabs on him too. It isn't insane, it's just the way people with a fiction writer's imagination are supposed to be.

    If we weren't THAT connected to our characters, they'd never get off the page and into the readers' hearts. Says me.

  2. Great post, Robin, and I so agree. And with Grace too! If we put our heart and soul into the characters, feel what they're feeling, living through all their disasters, having a wolfish time of it (well, at least mine are~~LOL), it is hard to let go. I think too it's hard to let go of the known--we've grown to know these characters, and starting a new book is diving into the unknown.

    And frankly, we're at the very beginning again, with a whole 'nother story to write. Although, I have to say I love that too~~after I mull and mull and mull over how I want the hero and heroine to first meet.

    Congratulations on being close to the end! I'm like that with The Wolf and the SEAL...nearly done, working on the finishing touches, not wanting to let it go until I'm sure it's the best it can be. :) Good luck!!!

  3. I really enjoyed your post Robin and you are so, so right. If our characters have life, then our readers connect to them, and that's what brings them back for book two or book eighty two. And I love it when past characters make that little cameo appearance and lets the reader know they are still kickin'.

  4. That just goes to show that your feelings about being a writer haven't changed, even after book five. I'm moving into a different group of guys with books 7-9 and leaving my old friends from 1-6 behind, and, yeah, it's like moving to another planet.

  5. Grace~ It's nice to see I'm not the only one. I love the idea of a foundation hero. Fabulous!

    Terry~I am so looking forward to the beginning of my next book. I just need to figure out which comes next, Trapper or Fisher. Hmm.

    Carolyn~ In my first series, all the characters kept coming back and playing rolls in the next book. I loved it. I'm sure in this series it will be the same way.

    Cheryl- Nope, my feelings haven't changed a bit. I still adore my characters. I'm always amazed when interviewers ask which hero is my favorite. It's like asking which of your children is your favorite. It's impossible to answer, you love them all equally for different reasons. As for which of my kids is my favorite--It depends on which child is in the room at the time. Twinkle Toes wrote a paper earlier this year about what I thought of her. She said that she was my favorite whenever she was away. LOL

  6. Hi Robin - I loved that phrase that writing the ending feels like "crawling across broken glass." I completely agree! The daze/fog afterward usually last for days with me until I "recover." :) Great blog!

  7. Isn't fun to have old friends stop by in new books. I recently wrote a character from a book that came out in 2006 into a scene in a new book. I felt like I was seeing an old friend again!

  8. Catherine~ I know what you mean. The book is due on the 15th and I'm going to be cleaning the house while I recover, because both my mother and my mother-in-law are flying in on the 17th to see Twinkle Toes dance in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker on her birthday, the 18th. God help me. I'm already suffering from PMS (Pre-Mother-Syndrome).

    Shana~ I know what you mean. I'm trying to think up a way to get all the characters from the Domestic Gods books together with the characters from The Domestic Gods Gone Wild books. Man would that would be one heck of a party!

  9. One of my favorite things about being a writer is starting a new book. It's the only thing that gets me to the end of the previous one. Otherwise, I'd stop at about 75% complete so I don't have to try to tie up all those loose, crazy plot threads that are going every which way and I'd never have to say good-bye to a set of characters I adore. The best thing about series is checking up on past characters. Then that HEA they worked so hard for can keep going and going and going. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself when I reach the end of the Sinners on Tour series. I'm imagining the 5th and final book to be around 500K in length. Ha!

  10. Robin, I think you've put your finger on one of the reasons that both authors AND readers like continuing characters. We want to check in with them again, fall in love with them all over again, and make sure they're STILL happy!
    Knowing that I enjoy doing this as a reader, I instinctively structured TASTE ME's world so some of the heroes and heroines have continuing roles throughout the series.

    Good luck on the final push. Sending you some virtual Godiva!

  11. Great post Robin! I am so excited for the new series, and can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve :) I think you should definitley figure out a way to get all of the Domestic Gods characters all together--it would be hilarous!!

  12. Olivia - Don't laugh, my first book was over 300,000 words. I still love those characters, of course it contained three complete love stories.

    Tamara - As much as I appreciate the thought. I'd appreciate the real thing even more. Dark Chocolate please. Maybe truffles.


    I'm having fun running around the mountains with Hunter, Fisher, Trapper and Karma. I tell you, I'm having such a hard time keeping the secondary characters from taking over the story. Karma is killing me!

  13. Love your post Robin.
    It's exactly how I feel as a reader about my fave books. It's like I got to know the characters as friends. It's why we reread faves and enjoy series, because we want to visit with them again.
    No one gets that about me except other readers & authors. Thanks, now I feel "normal" LOL.

  14. Great post, Robin! I love my characters, and I have a problem sometimes with my secondary characters wanting to take over. In the book I'm writing now, I had to postpone a small group of warriors arriving on the scene until later, because they were taking the focus off the hero and heroine. I have one character that would be a great character to kill off, but I can't do it. So I'll let him live and give him a story.

  15. I loved reading your blog and totally agree about leaving the characters behind. It is so hard and that is why I usually write trilogies, but for my Irish Westerns, the characters wouldn't leave me there is a 4th book in that series.

    Congrats on getting closer to the end!

  16. It seems we all mourn the loss of our characters, Robin. That's always a good thing. :}


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