Friday, September 16, 2011

The End

The Engineer and I often have differences of opinions on endings.  The engineer has a long commute to work and he listens to a lot of audio books in the car.  It's not that he likes happy ending, or that I like sad endings, or that he likes closed endings and I like open endings, It's just whether or not we think the ending was predictable/satisfying/forced/or true to the story.  

Margaret Atwood has a good article about endings.  It's not too long and very interesting.  She goes through a number of possible story endings then says that there is only one true outcome.  You'll have to read it to find out. She says a true writer will favor the stretch in between rather than the ending and tells us to worry about the how and why which will bring a story to life rather than just the what. 

How do you feel about endings? Do you have a particular style you like?  How do you know your ending is right for your story?


  1. I read once the ending of one novel should sell the next book and while I write like this whether I continue on with the same characters or create all new ones in the next, I tend to end the book appropriately.

    I know that's a copout. Most times I use the revolving door into hell as an ending. You think it's the end but it's the beginning of something new or something to be continued. I haven't read Margaret's article but thank you for posting it. It should be interesting. I basically believe in happy endings or what my main character believes is a happy ending.

    I've had people finish reading "The Sacrificial Lamb" and tell me "Oh no, you didn't just end it there!" And throw the book at me. It's all in fun. The ending of this particular novel opens a whole new can of worms left to the reader's imagination. This particular storyline is not one I'm continuing or not anytime lately. It still has the main character perceiving a happy ending although the darkness still lurks outside.

  2. Personally I like an open ending. Not a cliffhanger that leaves you gasping for air but something that lets you know this is just the beginning. I'll take any ending as long as it feels true to the characters.

  3. When I first started reading SF/fantasy I used to get so mad at the end of Book 1, or Boo2,3 etc depending on how many there were.

    But then I realised that so long as there was an open ending I could almost be certain that I would be able to visit with my favourite characters again.

    This is not to say that I will ever forgive George Lucas for leaving me hanging at the end of 'The Empire Strikes Back'.

  4. Oops ... erm ... Book 2, 3 etc! ... heh, heh.

  5. Personally, I think open endings are different than cliffhangers. Open endings make us feel that the characters keep living when we put the book down. We know they have a future. Cliffhangers, well, they drive me crazy. Which is maybe what the author wanted. My worst cliffhanger was Diana Gabaldon's Dragonfly in Amber, Luckily the next book was already out when I found the series. Even then the mad dash to get it could have had serious repercussions for anyone who got in my way.

  6. I like a semi open ending - Diana explained it perfectly once. Something about wrapping everything up but leaving the future open to the reader's imagination. Just like in Outlander :-)