Loose ends

As some promising threads remain unexplored in writing a novel, the question is what to do with the loose ends. Cut them out? Or weave a new thread through the novel?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Le Chat, by Philippe Geluck on display in Montreux, Switzerland.

When you begin a novel, you weave in a number of promising threads, not all of which will be developed as you move forward. The question is, to what extent are those loose ends distracting in that they encourage the reader to shoot off on a tangent? In my new novel, The Boy in the Book, the first chapter involved a cat. However, as I continued with the story, other things caught my attention and the cat no longer appeared. When I came to edit the first draft I realised the problem, but I was loathed to cut out the cat because it gave warmth to the beginning of the story and showed a relationship to the main character that was endearing. If I kept it, however, I needed to find an ongoing role for the animal in a story that literarily left the cat behind. For various logistical reasons, keeping the cat was not easy. But, in the end, I did find a solution that gave the cat an active roll throughout the novel. Of course, having completed a draft of the whole book, inserting a new thread was a delicate operation. But I’m pleased with the result and I hope you’ll be intrigued by the cat, amongst other things, when you read The Boy in the Book.

Extracts: the cat in the first chapter of The Boy in the Book

Bea removed the bookmark and began reading, only to replace it and snap the book shut. “Weird!” she exclaimed, upsetting Ginger that lay sprawled in her lap. “Sorry, pussy,” she said, gently rubbing behind its ears. “I could have sworn that sneaky brat was not in the room. Now he’s lurking in an alcove.” 


Her mind instinctively sought an explanation. Anything to let her continue reading. Maybe it was some new-fangled safety mechanism to prevent readers jumping forward in the story. “Come off it,” she scolded the cat, not that it knew anything about stories. “That’s too far-fetched, even for me.” Or could it be the book punishing her for skipping pages? “As if books had a mind of their own,” she berated the cat. The animal returned her stare, its look quizzical.

Find out more about The Boy in the Book

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