Writing Tip #73

A word about endings. I have a problem with endings, generally. I was reminded of this a few minutes ago while chatting with a friend of mine on the telephone, and we were talking about the series finale to HBO’s Entourage, which I wasn’t too fond of: Ari quitting his job to reunite with his estranged wife, Eric making up with a pregnant Sloan and Vince heading off to Paris to get married. It all seemed so… I don’t know, safe. And perfect. Boys get girls. Friends heading off into the sunset. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I felt let down.

Nor was I fond of the series finale of Lost (they were dead?!), or with the ending to The Hunger Games, which I felt was a nonending. Although I am a fan of the book and the entire trilogy, I thought the first book’s ending functioned simply to set up the second book in the series. I remember finishing the book and tossing it onto the sofa and groaning. Actually, I wasn’t all that thrilled with Catching Fire’s ending either. See what I mean? (I have 50 pages to go in Mockingjay; you can imagine my nervousness.)

I’m starting to think it’s me, the writer in me — I have a tendency to dream up my own little ending as I read a book or watch a film or TV show, and then often the REAL ending falls short of my expectations. Kind of like how you picture characters in your mind as you are reading a book and then are disappointed when you see the actors and actresses who have been chosen to play them. It’s never what you pictured.

Not that I don’t like happy surprises! Those are the best, particularly when I’m SURE I know what’s going to happen in a film or book, and then I’m totally wrong — but in a good way. The writers, instead of playing it safe, went above and beyond, into directions that were new and exciting.

Which brings me to my own ending for Baby Grand. For a girl who has a problem with endings, imagine writing one? The pressure!

Indeed, I know that writing an ending is a tall order — having to wrap things up in a way that feels complete, while leaving a few questions or teasers lingering, if you feel so inclined.

And I have no idea if I succeeded.

But all you can do — I think, all any writer can do — is write the ending you see in your head, be true to your voice and end your book in a way that feels right — satisfying — to you.

And hope that satisfaction extends to your readers as well.

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4 thoughts on “Writing Tip #73

    • Hmmm… I just finished MOCKINGJAY, the third book in the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, and although there were things I didn’t like about the direction taken near the end, the last few pages elicited a very emotional response from me, and that’s always great. And because I like the thriller genre, endings that give that big SURPRISE WHAM at the end tend to excite me — off the top of my head, I’m thinking of William Diehl’s PRIMAL FEAR. I also enjoyed the ending to THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE which felt satisfying despite the fact that it was setting up the third book in the series; it even made me laugh a little. :) Thanks so much for your comment, Olivia!

  1. In a world that seems full of sequels, I’m of the school of thinking that a writer needs to give a reader some closure to the initial story. If you want to leave a reader wanting more and to read a sequel, don’t end it leaving a poor reader on the edge of their seat after all they’ve made a commitment to this tale. Give a reader a break and instead of leaving the unimaginative cliffhanger, introduce a new story line at the end, a new adventure for them to get stuck into. I’m all for sequels starting at the end of the first book but not for the end of the first book being written in the sequel. If this makes sense, please consult a doctor :)

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