Friday, February 4, 2011


Susan over at All the World's our Page blog had an interesting post today about endings.  She talks about the never-ending story, a story that lives long after you are done reading.  I'm not going to quote everything she says because you can hop over there and read it for yourself.  She quotes from John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story, which now I have to have.  

Her comments stuck in my mind because yesterday I read this post by writerjen about open vs closed endings  She argues one should leave a little ambiguity, some unanswered questions for readers to continue wondering and thinking about.

As a writer I see the need to leave the reader wanting more, connected in some way to the story so that it says with them.  Whether they're wondering about the future or thinking about the past and what each previous encounter in the book meant now that they understand the characters better.

I want an ending that reads true to the characters, that isn't so spontaneous that it's unrealistic and one that fills me with a strong emotion.  Any emotion.  One of my favorite books is Celestial Navigation by Ann Tyler and the ending is one big miscommunication and the loneliness and despair that it created.  Yet I love it.  It rings true to the characters and it leaves me with emotions that I have to process and think through and often makes me flip back through the book.  In other words the book stays with me, never-ending.  Open or close, happy or sad, it's the honesty and truth that makes an ending good.

The hard part, of course, is writing that perfect ending.  It has to be true and consistent with characters, be so well written that it looks effortless and leave a reader wanting more.  Wait did I say hard?  How about near impossible.  How many times have you read a book only to be dissapointed by an ending?  There was one book that the climax was so wrong I laughed out loud even though people were dying and Serious Things were happening.  I don't want to have that effect on people.

What do you think about endings?  What are some good, interesting, or bad endings you've read.  Do you prefer happy or sad? Open or closed?  Or is it most important that is feels true?

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