This week I hit the point in my manuscript where I have about 50 pages left. For a Harlequin Romance that's a tad under one-fourth of the book. So if you're working on a longer book, a 400-page single title for example, this post would apply to the last 100 pages of your book. :)
Anyway, when I get to this point, I know it's time to figure out the end.
Figure out the end? Don't you have a synopsis?
So why are you only now figuring out the end?
Even if I use the ending I have in the synopsis or on the storyboard, it's still gonna get some tweaking because lots of things change or morph as I write.
In this book, I totally changed the ending. I'd been building to something and, honestly, if I don't follow through on what I've been building to, I think the book will read lopsided (or the eds will make me rewrite).
As we work through the actual writing of a novel, characters change. We discover things about them we didn't know. Or we realize something, a comment or piece of their past we believed was trite, the characters themselves consider vitally important.
So, when I hit the point where I only have 1/4 of the book left, I figure out the black moment and the resolution of their problem (their happy ending). Then I work backward. I make sure that I feather in a lot of hints and foreshadow important things.
For instance, there is a secondary character who will play a role in the black moment. Two chapters before that I will have the hero mention that he's being put on the guest list for "the big event" at which the black moment takes place.
The heroine has to get a new job. And the uber-poor heroine has to somehow scrounge up a ball gown. The path had to be paved for both of those.
Because so many things have to happen, working backward allows me to not just remember to get them in...it also allows me to figure out the best place to put those things for maximum drama.
For me the ending is like playing with dominoes. I need to have certain things happen so all I have to do is figure out which domino needs to fall first to make the whole thing come tumbling down.
So try that on your next book. When you reach the point where you only have one-quarter of your book left, figure out your black moment and resolution, then work backward. What has to happen to make that black moment "work."