Endings and Why I Don’t Like Them

by K. Trian

Yesterday I “finished” my entry to a science fiction short story contest both T and I are going to partake. Basically the story is done, the plot taoers to the end, the main conflicts are resolved, yet I still have no idea how to end the story. I want it to be satisfactory, I wanted it to offer a sense of a circle being closed, maybe leave the reader with something to think about so that they don’t feel like reading my story was a complete waste of time.

But damn it’s hard.

I like beginnings. Beginnings are easy. I never worry about the first words, nowadays I just start the story as late as I can and move on from there.

Endings – not so much fun. I’ve always struggled with them. I even hate reaching the end of a novel (which might explain why I tend to leave books anywhere between, say, 1-10 % unread) because a part of me just doesn’t want it to end. It feels like death and I’m the murderer, it feels like preparing for a funeral whenever I’m approaching it, THE END. FIN. I realize I have only 10 pages left and the author still hasn’t answered some of the questions that keep burning in my brain. I’m terrified; what if s/he won’t? Most likely s/he won’t! So sometimes I just don’t go to the last page. I leave the book alive, return to my killing floor when I’m ready.

With my own writing, I know I want to finish what I’ve started. T and I have finished the first drafts for most of our works. I don’t mind killing my own book, but finding the way to do it often feels like an insurmountable task – as is the case with my latest short story.

How do you guys approach endings? How important are they to you? Do you try to close the circle, say something profound before you leave the reader? Do you know your ending when you start writing?

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2 thoughts on “Endings and Why I Don’t Like Them

  1. So far, my endings are only temporary, since I’m writing a series. I find that those kind of endings are easy to do — a dash of closure, a hint of the future, or maybe a tease of something in the background finally coming to the fore. But to close the whole series… I don’t know. I might be tempted, by the end, to go Tolkien and have like….ten chapters of various characters attaining their fates, but I really hope that doesn’t happen. But whose perspective do I close with? What element of the story gets the last word?

    At this point (halfway through the series), I have a few inklings, but I think I won’t know until I’m closer to the end. Til then, I’ve been labeling my single-book epilogues as codas, because they’re more a pause/shift in the music of the series than a proper wrap. Have to wait to hear the finale.

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