Saying goodbye to stories is hard. But writing endings that are impactful is harder.
It’s often the ending that resonates with readers. Endings can make the preceding sixty or hundred thousand words look great (or awful) in retrospect.
We don’t want to leave the reader unnecessarily disheartened. I’ve once thrown a book across the room for having kept me riveted only to end with a kidnapped character die a horrible death that had little to do with the core of the story. Call me crazy, but it felt as though the writer was resolving personal issues and found killing the character therapeutic.
No, thank you. For such reasons, we have shrinks. Courts of law.
We also don’t want rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Don’t want a feel-good ending for fear of disappointing. No tricks. The ending has to be congruous with the story. Organic. No last-minute solutions popping out of nowhere.
After having written several endings, I find this attempt no easier than my first. And that is where I find myself at this time, dear reader, with my work in progress — a mystery novel. Near the ending.
I lay awake at night, trying to make the final reveals in various scenes make sense. Trying to tie together loose ends, lay the groundwork for the resolution — a piece that comes after, when everything that’s come before seems retroactively wonderful.
One night I had a brilliant idea on how to do all this, which turned out to suck in the morning after I had two cups of coffee and thought about it some more. Sure I knew where the story had to go from the beginning. Some hundred pages later, things have changed. But the goal remains. I’ve made a promise I have to deliver on.
So, what are my choices at this time?
1. Tear the whole thing up? Um, no.
2. Simplify. Maybe a little, but not enamored with the idea.
3. Dive deeper into the characters’ heads. Works, but not as a stand alone.
4. Re-read everything. Sure. I’ve probably done it fifty times.
5. Shut up and do the work. Write, write, write. Re-write. Then write some more. And it will all come together. Eventually.
~~ Tell me about endings you’re read, written, loved, hated.