Entering The Clean Up Phase

Cleaning products.
© Can Stock Photo / JanPietruszka

I’ve been busy putting the final touches on the first draft for my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Letter, and I’m now entering what I call, the cleanup phase.

Something has always bothered me with most of the so-called traditional contemporary romance novels that I’ve read. The author would reach the big climax scene, and then, once it was over, shazam! Everything would magically fall back into place right then and there. Then, one or two pages later, everyone rides off into the sunset. The end.

Wouldn’t it be great if real life was as simple?

I’ve always strived to make my stories as realistic and believable as possible, so after the big climax I include a cleanup phase. This gives my characters a chance to regroup and deal with the aftermath of the events that happened during the climax. It can be as short as an epilogue, or as long as several chapters. If a character is injured, you’ll see his or her recovery. If a villain gets caught, you’ll find out how long their prison sentence is. If someone leaves town, they’ll have a chance to say goodbye. The lead characters will work out whatever unresolved conflicts they may have. In other words, I’ll tie up of all the loose ends before I end my story. I don’t write sequels, so each ending has to be as complete, and as satisfying as possible for the reader.

Marina Martindale