analect: (television)
[personal profile] analect posting in [community profile] writerslounge
Howdy all!

First off, let me apologise for not being around since, like, ever. I am a flake. I suck. However, the comm clearly does not need me to function, which is a very good thing, and I’d just like to say hello and thank you (as appropriate) to those of you joining, posting, and generally keeping things moving around here.

Anyway, I’d like to pose a question about endings. I don’t know about you, but I think they are one of the things I find most difficult to write.

For me, it’s the multiple issues of a) needing to tie up loose ends in terms of plot, character, and thematic or other floating things, b) finding a mechanism or moment in the story at which the ending actually sits naturally, and c) like a fastidious painter with a bad eye for colour, truly knowing when to stop, put down the brush pen keyboard, and step away.

Of course, added to this, endings come in many different forms. There are neat ones, dangling ones, ambiguous ones, signposted ones… and ones that leave the reader wondering what on earth just happened.

I’d like to know what, in your view, makes a successful ending. Whether it’s happy, sad, conclusive or inconclusive, what do you think the key components are? And how do you all go about constructing and refining your endings?

I admit, there is an ulterior motive here, in that I want/need to rewrite the end of a book and I don’t know wtf I’m doing with it.

If anyone would like to workshop/read/comment/generally peruse the specific bits in question, I’m posting them on my journal, access list only, because of contractual things. So, add me to your circle to read, then feel free to point and laugh. *grin*

I would be eternally grateful for any suggestions on my own bit of messed-up ending, but I’m interested in other people’s thoughts on the subject generally, too.

Discuss. ;D

Link to my journal post:

Date: 2012-05-07 03:09 am (UTC)
intothewood: (Default)
From: [personal profile] intothewood
I've been trying to come up with specific endings that I think are exemplary, and it's difficult. I remember the end of A Prayer for Owen Meany having an impact, but now I can't recall why. I think it was more the last part of the book rather than the ending.

I tend to like endings with big impact, like the end of Franny and Zooey or the end of The Age of Reason - endings that make me go 'coooooooool'

The end of my first novel is a slosh bucket of ooey gooey sentimentality, it makes me gag. I don't even know where that came from - yeah, I kinda do, actually. I was watching a lot of depressing movies at the time and as a subconscious reaction my book veered off into sappyville. The thing is, it sort of... works? It's too squishy for my taste, only I don't know how to come up with essentially the same result minus the squish. Secretly I don't want to change it, oh god. I hate turing into a big ol' softie! Hey, no jokes. I've learned my lesson, though - no more French films while writing!

Nothing I've written here so far addresses any of your specific questions. Obviously a big challenge for me is being concise.

Since my forte has usually been the quickie, my tendency is to rush to the finish line. No one wants their readers to say they're bad in bed, so that's something I'm working on. I let myself shoot my wad, then go back and add all the stuff I need to say to make it right.

So yes, I'd say a successful ending is one that leaves the reader wanting more of you. I guess I could go back to those French films for a moment and say that, while those inevitable ambiguous or sad endings aren't everyone's cup of tea, they almost guarantee that you'll linger over the story. I love the chance to linger a bit with the characters. The same thing can be achieved with an uplifting ending, of course. It's the endings that fairly scream out THE END!!!!!! that are ultimately short on satisfaction. I don't want things so tightly wrapped up that I don't have to spend another moment in the scene.

Date: 2012-05-07 03:23 am (UTC)
jcvalois: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jcvalois
I totally agree with [personal profile] intothewoodintothewood that my favourite endings leave me wanting more, but I have a couple things to add to that, too.

I'm equally fine with sad or happy endings (actually, I prefer happy endings because I am an emotional eggshell), but I think what I like best in an ending is that it makes things that happened in the beginning -- minor things, random things, things I thought I'd forgotten -- all come full-circle. I think that takes editing and rewriting after the first draft, but there's no feeling I like better than "Hey! So *that's* what was going on." The more subtle the connection, the better; I like Easter eggs like that.

Also, tying into the "want more" idea, I like endings that don't feel completely final. I like the sense that the story continues past the ending, that the book was just a quick glimpse into the characters' lives but that they still have challenges and victories just over the horizon.

I've never finished a novel-length work so I don't know how to write those, but at least that's what I like to encounter when I read!


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The Writers' Lounge is a friendly, informal chat, crit, discussion and resources group.

Have questions or want to discuss something? Fire away! Want some feedback on a piece of writing you're working on? Post it! Stuck with research, or found a fabulously useful resource others might benefit from? Step up and share!

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February 2013


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