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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Endings

   
Author Topic: Endings
C@R3Y
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Gosh, I hate when I have to write endings to stories. Well, it's not that I hate writing endings, I just hate having to choose the most obvious of endings, because those are boring, and because I like to be surprising within reason and have my story go out with a bang, so that my reader can remember that story for days or even weeks after they read it. And by remember, I mean something like emotionally attached to it.

Does anyone else have trouble with Endings? If so, what are some ways you go about writing your endings, so that it can be different, original, emotionally strong, surprising and unexpected.

Once I get endings down, usually they are great, but it's just during the first and second or even third drafts of a story I'm working on that I have trouble working up a good ending. Sometimes even fourth. I know there are some easier ways than how I do it, and I would like to know some of them. =]

Honestly, though, I think a writer has to go through a few endings before they come up with a good one. At least, that is, with different stories I would imagine.

I would like to know your thoughts on the subject matter.

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MartinV
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I don't think every ending has to be unexpecting. I don't remember the last time I was actually surprised by it and I can't say those books weren't enjoyable.

It's more important to make an ending that makes sense than to make an ending that would be a bang in the head. I don't need to be knocked out by every story I read.

I have a simple rule about endings: if the ending is not presenting itself by the time you write the rest of the story, something is terribly wrong in that story's bowels. So just make an ending that comes along.

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babooher
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I get anxious about my endings because normally by then I , scratch that, my storytelling didn't quite live up to the promise it had when I was conceptualizing. When the end comes knocking, I have to face up to not having created the perfect story.
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pdblake
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My endings tend to be pretty much what I put in the outline, though that outline can be fluid at times [Big Grin]
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C@R3Y
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Babooher, yes, I think that is exactly what my issue is when it comes to endings and that is why I have I have a problem with the first dozen attempts. x]
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Crystal Stevens
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I find my short stories work best if I know at least where they start and have a good solid idea of how they're going to end before I start writing them. Then it's just a matter of getting from the beginning to the ending of the first draft. Sometimes the entire story will change before I get the first draft finished and be nothing like I thought up in the first place. But at least I had a basic idea to work with from the beginning to guide me along the way.

When it comes to endings; I do like to be surprised or shocked with the outcome if it's beneficial to the main character. Even tragedy can help shape the MC for the better. If it doesn't, the story loses everything and has no meaning.

I'm also not a big fan of suddenly stopping the story once the major conflict is settled. Many times this leaves a lot of questions unanswered that could be told if the writer goes just a hair farther with the story. I guess what I'm saying is I like a wrap-up at the end if it isn't already obvious. Does that make sense?

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C@R3Y
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@MartinV, thanks for your input on this. I guess I already had an idea of what you were saying, but you just reminded me. I was working on a story of mine--I was right at the ending too, go figure--and I thought about what you said and was able to finish it without much thought. It is not only surprising, but it's very effective and I myself didn't even think it would end that way. It was right in front of my face, but I tried thinking of another way to put it. It flows nicely now too.

@Crystal Stevens, I used to do that, but I don't know what happened. I guess I just stopped doing outlines. Lately, I have been more into NOT even knowing how the story will end myself because I like to be surprised when writing them and getting to the end. I like for my characters to write their own paths when I give them situations in different settings, through conflict, action, and dialogue, because for me it's much more fun. Sometimes it works, but sometimes however it doesn't and I just get stuck. That's what causes writers block, for me, I guess you would say. Well, it's not that I would get stuck... I guess I just don't like the next possible outcome through my characters actions. I think I give my characters too much freewill, Ha Ha.

But I do understand what you are saying. Thanks for reminding me of something that I once knew myself, but had forgotten. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of old habits. =]

The story I just finished, wow, I don't mean to toot my own horn, but it had me quivering after I finished it, and breathing heavily, and for someone who writes horror, it was just an amazing feeling I got as I typed that last sentence.

When a story stops, leaving many questions, sometimes that is a good thing. It gives the reader a chance to answer the questions him/herself, and it leaves you with a bit of a mystery, but sometimes it can really be irritating and it's best to "wrap it up", but it also depends on the story. Some stories end best when questions aren't really answered, and sometimes they end best when it wraps up completely. It just depends on the story, I think. But of course all that is just my opinion. :]

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extrinsic
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Endings are foreshadowed by beginnings. In an opening a central character develops a want. Opposition arises from within and without. Efforts to achieve the want escalate to a climax. There's where the turns become major and perhaps expected or unexpected.

At climax, the ending seems in sight, but, oh no, whoops, it didn't take. The big fish that's now alongside the boat is bigger than the boat and impossible to haul inside. The blood trail attracts sharks. That's a tragic crisis.

The downhill action from there is to hurry to port and prevent as much loss as possible. At landing, there's a head and a tail and a skeleton left. The final crisis there. Then it's the denouement. The fisherman is well and truly, irrevocably, unequivocally beaten by the curse he wanted to not be true. The want is not achieved and a life lesson is learned. He is cursed.

[ March 21, 2012, 08:48 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MattLeo
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I tend to start at endings and work roughly backward. Once I have the shape of the story I'll venture a start to it.
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enigmaticuser
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I find I envision the final conflict, with an assumption about the ending (that the good guy wins =) but I don't usually nail down the details until I get there.

For me though, I'm having to learn the art of 'wrapping it up'. I think I did pretty good with my last ending, but before that I was pretty much always accused of not having sent the final chapter =)

For me that's the hard part, figuring out what else needs to be said when it seems like "hey the action is over, what do you want to know? His mode of transportation as he left? How many kids he had? What do you want from me!?!"

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LDWriter2
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For me it depends on the story. A lot of the time I know the ending and as long as it fits with the story I don't care if it's a surprise or not. But some times when I get there I have no idea exactly how to end it. Everything is done and said so it's over but I just can't think of the last little bit.

Actually, the story that I will be sending to Q2 of WotF is that way. I had three endings that all seem to fit. One was what I considered cliche-ish that is used a lot and I didn't want to use that one for that reason. I tried to combine two ideas because I couldn't decide which one I liked the best. It probably shows.

But I don't think the ending has to be a surprise. Sometimes that's good but not always.

And I would agree with Crystal's last paragraph... it does make sense.

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MartinV
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quote:
The story I just finished, wow, I don't mean to toot my own horn, but it had me quivering after I finished it, and breathing heavily, and for someone who writes horror, it was just an amazing feeling I got as I typed that last sentence.
I know what you mean. When the ending for my current WIP came to pat me on the shoulder, I was close to hysteria. But in a good way.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by enigmaticuser:
For me that's the hard part, figuring out what else needs to be said when it seems like "hey the action is over, what do you want to know? His mode of transportation as he left? How many kids he had? What do you want from me!?!"

I think the technical term is "denouement" and it comes after the climax and resolution. It's the "hero rides off into the sunset" part, more or less.

Algis Budrys called it the "validation" and said that basically you are saying, "yup, that's the end."

If you've just had a big battle scene, and the good guys won, you could have an awards ceremony--such as the one at the end of STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE--or just have people dust themselves off and shake hands and say, "so you survived? Glad to hear it" to each other.

It really is hard to figure out what to include at the very end (which may be why Peter Jackson had so many endings, one after another for the last movie in his LORD OF THE RINGS movie series).

Maybe this could be a discussion in the Discussing Published Books and Hooks area where people talk about how this kind of thing has been done in well-known books and movies.

It might even work as a kind of writing challenge (to come up with the final ending after the climax for some agreed-upon or even cliche plot).

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MartinV
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quote:
For me that's the hard part, figuring out what else needs to be said when it seems like "hey the action is over, what do you want to know? His mode of transportation as he left? How many kids he had? What do you want from me!?!"
I picture the scene just by reading what I've written, trying to put aside my own knowledge. Then I see what needs to be put down to capture the mood of the scene. For instance I realize that the weather is very important for setting the mood so I add something about the wind or the sun.
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Robert Nowall
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I've found it best to keep the end in mind as you write---and if it doesn't work you can change it to something else you can keep in mind. One of my Internet Fan Fiction pieces had a specific scene in mind for the end---and while practically everything in between changed that ending was what I wrote at the end.

With my last novel I didn't have an ending in mind---and, after a hundred thousand words, I reached a point where I had nowhere to go, and abandoned the sorry thing...

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