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.

— pixabay


8 responses to “Endings

  1. Perhaps you just need to spend some time stream-of-consciousness writing. Sit down without a plan in mind and write what you want the ending to be. See where it takes you. Or better yet, write the sequel…

  2. My favorite types of endings are the ones that feel happy but also feel earned. I hate spending so much time with these characters only to have the main point be “And everything sucks, the end.” But I also need to feel like the happiness in the end was deserved.

    • I agree, Olivia. It has to be earned. And watching beloved characters die can create bad feelings. Why make us love them, just to watch them die? Pointless to a point.
      Thank you for coming by.

  3. Hi Silvia – I do dislike weak endings … it should be as strong as the book has been – so often one feels the author just wants to close off the book … good luck with your approach – cheers Hilary

    • Writers run out of steam, or creative energy, at times (or are under stringent deadlines), and slap something together. It’s so obvious, isn’t it? I’ve seen it in both novels and movies. Hope I never succumb to that approach.
      Thank you, Hilary.

  4. I, too, once threw a book across the room. It wasn’t a formulaic romance novel, but it was a love story. At least, I felt the love until the female of the couple died. She got killed and just like that, 90% of the way through the book, he’s alone. I don’t remember if I ever read the last 10% of the book or not. But I did stay away from that author, who previously had been one of my favorites, for a couple of years. Even so, now that I read his novels again, I’m always a little leery toward the end and ready to tell him, one more screw up and you’re done! :-)

    • I so understand you, Deb. The novel I referenced was also written by a man who killed the female character near the 90% mark. She was the main character’s wife and mother of his children. Since it was written by a man, I did wonder if the author had such experience in some relationship, “killing” the female of the couple was therapeutic for him. It wasn’t for me, after having invested so much energy and watching the character develop, and like you I’m staying away from the author. I feel that will change, but need some time :)

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