Addressed not to satate but, em, to my fellow (mostly-)lurkers:
Someone with lots of writing experience could probably offer useful suggestions.
However, I'm just an armchair literary theorist.
It seems a lot of gifted writers are pantsers. (Others are more so plan-aheaders -- but both camps end up achieving similar goals, in the end, right? That is, writers approach plotting either by the seat of their pants or planning it out ahead of time.)
At my side is this library book about a system for a beginner to HYPERLY plan out a novel; it's by Evan Marshall -- __ THE MARSHALL PLAN WORKBOOK: WRITING YOUR NOVEL FROM START TO FINISH __. Marshall says in essense **figure out what the lead's quest is and then plot toward its being achieved.** His book's actual, accompanying worksheet for this:
The genre of the novel I am creating is_____________________________
The lead is a ... _____________________________
__ - Appropriate for target genre?
__ - Interesting to you?
__ - Interesting to readers, in your best judgment?
__ - Fresh and original, to the best of your knowledge?
In response to the crisis, my lead decides to__________
__ - Most logical under the circumstances?
__ - Believable that achievement of this goal will solve the crisis?
__ - Will cause lead to try to gain possession or relief?
__ - If lead fails, he/she will suffer terrible consequences?
__ - Life without achieving this goal and solving the crisis would be unthinkable?
__ - Worthy, high-minded motivation?
__ - Pits lead against great odds?
Hmm. Wow. A satisfying ending apparently must really bring closure to a story's underlying conflicts in some way, h'em? Somehow. And, to paraphrase the eleven points of Marshall's two-part checklist, such a climax must (1) fit with whatever is the genre (2) appeal to the author (3) be thought likely to appeal to readers (4) be thought to be "fresh and original" (5) be organic/realistic/"logical" (6) satisfy underlying conflicts (7) have the story's protag(s) be thought to have "gain[ed] possession or relief" of something or another (8) be such that "terrible consequences" must result otherwise (9) be such that life without it is "unthinkable" (10) result -- that is, unless the hero is an ANTI-hero -- from motivations that are "high-minded," and (11) be something that overcomes "great odds."
* * *
However, when I was at the library, I skimmed and sped-read __ THE PLOT THICKENS: EIGHT WAYS TO BRING FICTION TO LIFE __ by Noah Lukeman, who is a fairly "literary" of a fiction-writing guru. Lukeman's book's appendix contains this alphabetized list of nine recommended books on writing, which runs like this.
Bly, Carol's __ BEYOND THE WRITER'S WORKSHOP __
OSC's (...well, duh!) __ CHARACTERS & VIEWPOINT __
Frey, James N.'s __ HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL __ and __ THE KEY: HOW TO WRITE DAMN GOOD FICTION USING THE POWER OF MYTH __
Kress, Nancy's __ DYNAMIC CHARACTERS __
Naylor, Phyllis Reynold's __ THE CRAFT OF WRITING THE NOVEL __
Seger, Linda's __ CREATING UNFORGETABLE CHARACTERS __
Sloane, William's __ THE CRAFT OF WRITING __
Tobias, Ronald's __ 20 MASTER PLOTS __
. . . . . "Aha!" I noted to myself, "Kress is said to be a HUGE pantser! Maybe SHE knows what to do or can give advice/help brainstorm how to grab up plot threads into a reasonably satisfying ending!"
I just now went and used Amazon's "Look inside!" feature to glance at the introduction to Kress's __ BEGINNINGS, MIDDLES AND ENDS: HOW TO GET YOUR STORIES OFF TO A ROARING START, KEEP THEM TIGHT AND CRISP THROUGHOUT, AND END THEM WITH A WALLOP -- (a title, incidentally, that it seems quite a few readers swear by, on such forums as Amazon and Good Reads http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/68317.Beginnings_Middles_Ends ). And, I read (quote):
[...] Finally there is the story that sustains interest right to the last scene. The reader is racing along, dying to know how it all comes out or what it all means. But she never does. Instead she finds a resolution that leaves major plot lines hanging or is out of character or doesn't seem to add up to anything meaningful, or trails off into pseudosymbolism that doesn't seem connected to events of the story. [...] Many such stories receive requests for an editorial rewrite, since the editor doesn't want to believe that such promising fireworks fizzle out. The request spotlights the problem but doesn't solve it.
"Hmm...." Now I gotta read Kress's book!"
[This message has been edited by WraithOfBlake (edited April 07, 2010).]