On Finishing Inheritance

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What were the last few weeks as you wrapped Inheritance like? You had put years of thought, effort, and your life into the series, and the end was nearing. What were you feeling?

The last few weeks were madness, sheer madness. I was under enormous pressure to finish the first draft of the book—my deadline had long since passed, and it was beginning to look as if Inheritance might not be published that year, which would have been a personal and professional disaster.

What’s more, the mental and emotional demands of wrapping up a story that I had been working on for fourteen years were tremendous. Every scene I was writing was one I had been dreaming about for over a decade, and to finally write those scenes, to finally put words to thoughts, images, and feelings that I had obsessed over for so long was . . . frightening. I wanted each word to be perfect, but I didn’t have the time to pursue perfection, and even if I had, perfection is, of course, impossible. All I could do was put down what was in my head as honestly as I could and hope that it worked.

The funny thing is, I didn’t think that writing the last scene would affect me very much. I had outlined the series before I began Eragon, so I always knew how the story was going to end, and from a distance, it didn’t seem to be that big a deal. Just another sequence of events to describe. However, when I started the last chapter, I felt a wave of heat pass through me, and I began to shake, almost as if I had a fever or a chill. The closer I got to the last sentence, the worse my shaking got, until I found it almost impossible to concentrate.

When I reached that final sentence, I couldn’t capture what was in my mind. The words came out snarled and wrong, and I was too agitated to figure out what I should do. So, I stopped then, and spent two-and-a-half months editing the rest of the book. And when my mind was somewhat clearer, and my emotions were calmer, and I’d had more than four hours of sleep the previous night, I looked at that last sentence again.

And I completely changed it.

I added one word . . . dark.

And then the sentence was perfect. And then the cycle was concluded, and with it, one of the most significant series of events in my life.

Christopher Paolini

About Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini is the author of the international bestsellers Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance, along with Eragon’s Guide to Alagaësia. He resides in Paradise Valley, MT.