Of course, now that I think on it, the middle's important, too. I don't want readers getting bored and putting the book down. Good books I've read have been the ones where I devour them in one sitting, no matter how long that is. The books I carried with me into the kitchen and the bathroom. Great books have those elements and are memorable enough to stay with me long after the book covers are closed.
I want to write a great book But first I have make this book 'good'.
I think I can safely and sadly expect that I'm not going to get the second draft done before I leave for World Fantasy at the end of the mouth. Rabble. I remember hoping I'd have the third draft done by now. Heck, I can remember wanting to have the book 'hand in ready' by October 27th. Now I'll be deliously happy if the first 5 chapters are polished enough not to embarass myself if a pro reads it. Oh well, crawl before you can walk, walk before you run. In the meantime, I need to write more. I wonder if I'm going to have to make yet another cut, this time in my critique groups. I've got three stories to do before tomorrow morning.
*Usual culprits are unexpected character changes, downer endings, 'message' ending, endings that are too rushed, ending where the main character didn't earn their happy ending or endings that simply did not live up to the expectations I had for the book. I'd name names here but frankly, the list would be depressing.