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rob
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[*] posted on 7-16-2007 at 02:07 PM
Ending a Story


I'm going to be honest. I write a lot, but rarely do I finish anything. I think I've finished maybe three stories out of the dozens and dozens I have begun. For those three, the endings were probably some of the worst things I have ever written (one made sense, the other two were just happy-ever-after BS).

My question is this.... how do you craft a good ending? I really don't have much experience with it. Is it wise to make a cliff hanger or an open-ended ending with much interpretation, or should all the loose ends get tied up in one final chapter? I have an aversion to the happy-ever-after stuff, so I'm thinking I want to do something more abstract with this story. I'm starting to babble, and I don't know what I am actually asking.... I expect that, like most things in writing, endings are something that go on a case-by-case basis.

But any tips on endings would be nice. TY!

[Edited on 7-16-2007 by rob]




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[*] posted on 7-16-2007 at 03:45 PM


I like an ending that pauses the action long enough to let the MC reflect back to the start situation in some way, and shows how much he/she has learned or changed.

Or you could look at author's who have written a series of books and see how they end the early books but leave the door open for more story.
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[*] posted on 7-16-2007 at 04:50 PM


Aha. You just reminded me of something that I meant to do... I had one particular character give someone advice in the start of the story. I was planning on making the MC tell that character her own advice, right before killing her O.o

Anyway, thanks for the reminder. Any additional tips would be appreciated !




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[*] posted on 7-16-2007 at 07:17 PM


I personally dislike cliffhangers at times--I hate having to guess what happens next. I'm like, "Okay, now what? That was an awesome book... but why did it have to end like that???"

Just my opinion. I like watercolour's advice, about having the MC reflect back on what happened, etc. Or a little snippet at the end that tells what happens from there on out.




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[*] posted on 7-17-2007 at 09:15 AM


Well, the one thing I don't want to do is the whole "Let's summarize what happens in the next few months of the protag's life"... it seems unnatural, almost like your narrator is writing a book instead of telling a story. I don't think it would fit with the focus I have setup...

But I do now have a very good idea of how I'm going to end. It's now just a matter of getting there :) And I can say one thing... it isn't going to happen in 15k words, so I'll be writing past July.

[Edited on 7-17-2007 by rob]




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[*] posted on 7-17-2007 at 10:12 PM


I also am not a fan of cliffhangers. I like to make sure all of the things I introduced in the beginning of the book have been sufficiently carried out / answered. I do have a bad habit of introducing a character that looks like they're going to be a major plot-point at the beginning of the novel and then forgetting about them when action really picks up for the MCs, only to pick them back up in the last few chapters and give their story a little bit of a sense of completion. Need to work on that, hah.

But cliffhangers are not cool. There's different ways to lead into a sequel than a cliffhanger and they aren't nearly so terrible as cliffhangers. Those should be left to daytime television. xD




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[*] posted on 7-18-2007 at 12:45 AM


I always seem to like a twist, but still sum the story up, rather than wondering what happened next.
My last story for SocNoc was about a young woman left pregnant, (in the 1950's, so difficult) the young man went north for Christmas to his family. he never returned as promised. The child was adopted out, and she met her real mother later. There was mention of old newspapers with various events, in the story, including a rail disaster.The woman went to her adopted father's funeral up north, years later (This is set in New Zealand.) She is at the gravesite, and a family member mentions it was nice he was buried next to his brother. She looks at the grave next one over, and there was the name of the boy who went north, he was killed in the rail disaster, on Christmas Eve. That is why he never returned.
How different would this woman's life have been if he had returned and lived with her real parents? :confused:

[Edited on 7-18-2007 by gaye-belle]




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[*] posted on 7-18-2007 at 08:37 AM


Yeah, mine isn't going to be a cliffhanger in the broadest sense. It is just going to leave out some explaining after a certain big event at the end of the book, explaining that I think would take away from the effect of the spectacular ending (and explaining that I think is unnecessary at all if you understand the MC). I just hope I can write the ending as well as it is in my head :)



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[*] posted on 7-18-2007 at 08:38 AM


Don't forget that you can always change/rewrite your ending when you edit. I'm reading this book (Getting the words right by Cheney) and I've been discovering that my inner writer sensor is taking over my writing. Anyway, to the point. On pgs 90 and 91 these elements are listed for a good ending:

- the ending peice of fiction should be brief
- tie up all plot elements (as in, taking the book's example, don't leave aircraft with bombs heading for London long after the threat is resolved)
- after the climax, a reader likes a denouement (very short: it can't run on and on for pages)
- theme is restated
- last sentences make reader feel like life goes on in the book

Again, don't forget that you can make it better when you edit. Most writers feel the ending is the hardest part. Oh and by the way, I hate happy endings :angry: ... :D
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[*] posted on 7-20-2007 at 07:45 PM


Your loose ends should be tied up before or immediately following the climax. Also, no cliffhangers. Look at the Harry Potter books. Not one ends in a real cliffhanger until you get to the sixth. I'm assuming you're writing book one, and aren't past book five yet. Also, make it big. You're ending a novel, after all, something you've invested a lot of time and emotion into. Don't you want a huge payoff for all your work? And if you can tie morals into it somehow, you know, go for the heart of your reader, at least attempt it. It's worthy enough a feat that if you fail you'll still be respected.



...and he can do that, and she can do this, and he can react like that, and she can slap him, and he can yell at her, and then a dead body can come crashing through the ceiling... yippee! XD
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[*] posted on 7-20-2007 at 10:31 PM


I am certainly planning on a massive ending. The problem in planning for something so large is that I'm worried that I won't be able to pull it off. The general plan is to have this huge good vs. evil showdown, and the protagonist is going to confront the antagonist, all the while seeing a vision of those who helped him get to the end. I have it in my head like a movie, but translating it to words will likely be difficult.

I am definitely going to tie up any loose ends, though. If I don't the first time, I definitely will on the rewrite. I do, however, want to give a sense of openness simply because I like my character enough to write another story with him in the future (not that it will ever happen, but I need to leave it open).




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[*] posted on 7-23-2007 at 06:17 AM


Sounds good Rob. Tell me (off the subject) but is that part of a model railway on your avater? Just asking as have an interest in model railways. :rolleyes:



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[*] posted on 7-28-2007 at 10:07 AM


Rob, in response to your fear of not being up to it, listen: you're allowed to botch it. After all, you're trying to write a novel in a month. For all intents and purposes, we're maniacs. It takes professionals months, even years to get a first draft down. There will always be time to rewrite, so get it down. It's not whether your novel is any good or not, it's that you wrote a novel. :D Smile, have confidence, and finish the thing!



...and he can do that, and she can do this, and he can react like that, and she can slap him, and he can yell at her, and then a dead body can come crashing through the ceiling... yippee! XD
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[*] posted on 7-28-2007 at 12:34 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by gaye-belle
Sounds good Rob. Tell me (off the subject) but is that part of a model railway on your avater? Just asking as have an interest in model railways. :rolleyes:


It is actually just a part of an illustration of someone's interpretation of the Shire, of LOTR fame. If you click the link in my sig, and go to my blog, you'll see the entire illustration.

Pianist: Thanks for the encouragement. I recognize what you are saying, that things don't need to be great the first time through. They don't even need to be good. Novel writing is a long, long process, and doing the first draft for even half a novel all in a month is crazy ;)




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[*] posted on 7-28-2007 at 08:33 PM


You have indeed done it! Well done. I looked at your blog, an recognised the shire of the Hobbit Village. It is in my country in NZ but haven't seen it.
Your story in your blog looks very attractive. :-*




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