Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The End is Near

Happy New Year! In my first post of 2018 I'm writing about endings. Crazy, I know, but what can I do? Endings are important to a writer, and not just to nail the book. It's also thrilling to come to that last scene, in the last chapter and say, Done.

Do we Judge Books by their Endings?

After 400 pages of story, you'd think readers would consider the whole experience, but no. They walk away from the book, TV series, play or movie, thinking of how it ended. They might be left pondering, cheering, crying or disappointed, but The End is what sticks.

For an author, a good ending means readers feel satisfied, even if profoundly sad or disturbed. They talk about the book, passing on its greatness by word of mouth. A bad ending is one where readers feel cheated, let down or worse, unmoved. They don't talk about the book or lend it to a friend. They throw it at the wall, eventually picking it up and putting it in the trash.

What Makes a Good Ending?

Feelings. Emotions. Whether comedic, tragic or fantastic, the ending needs to make readers feel deeply. It can come out of left field at the time, but there has to be, on reflection, a sense of logic, of possibility. Good authors will seed the ending in ways readers won't see it coming but later they find the rationale.

There are many types of endings and some of them are tethered to a genre. Romance novels, paranormal or otherwise, have an HEA (happy ever after). Trillers require an unsettling twist (Gone Girl). Fantasy may end with everyone receives a medal (Star Wars) or with the goal reached, but with varying degrees of fallout (LOTR).

YA Lit is changing but in the past 'happy and optimistic' endings were considered the norm. Yet, the most important ingredient in a good ending is its honesty. It may come as a shock, but it needs to ring true to the story. I remember being disturbed by the ending in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I didn't like it, but it felt right. See below for changing perspectives in children's literature.

The fact that texts for children express hope, and therefore typically have happy endings, raises a question about their accuracy and honesty. - Perry Nodelman and Mavis Reimer‘s The Pleasures of Children’s Literature,

An Eclectic Group of Endings that Work for me

Some endings summerize; others shock. Some come full circle. Some hang us off a cliff until the next in the series; others leave us guessing. Here's a mix of some of my favorites.

"Then she bade the white horse take her through the door, leaving the snow to close in behind them and winter to obliterate any trace of her passing. - The Heir of Night, Helen Lowe

"Later on he will understand how some men so loved her, that they did dare much for her sake." - Dracula, Bram Stoker

"The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well." - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

"He was soon borne away 
by the waves and lost in darkness and distance." - Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

"Are there any questions?" - The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

"She looked down and for an instant it seemed she held a ragged teddy, torn and chewed with one button eye missing, but when she blinked she saw it was only Teg’s fingers laced in her own." - Journey by NightKim Falconer

"She opened the door wide and let him into her life again." - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson

She closes her eyes again and I begin to sing softly:
'''V'la l'bon vent, v'la l'joli vent
V'la l'bon vent, ma mie m'appelle.'''
Hoping that this time it will remain a lullaby. That this time the wind will not hear. That this time - please just this once - it will leave without us." - Chocolat, Joanne Harris

"And then we continued blissfully into this small but perfect piece of our forever." - Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer

"When they finally did dare it, at first with stolen glances then candid ones, they had to smile. They were uncommonly proud. For the first time they had done something out of Love." - Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Süskind

"Hector turns and sees me and the world around us disappears. - The November Girl, Lydia Kang

How about you? I'd love to hear your most liked, or disliked, endings.


Kim Falconer's latest release comes out in 2018 The Bone Throwers, book one in the Amassia series, writing as A K Wilder. Find her new page on Facebook - AKWilder Author and on Twitter as AKWilder.

Her latest novel is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel.

Learn more about Kim on Facebook and chat with her on Twitter. Check out her pen name, @a.k.wilder on Instagram, or visitAKWilder on FB and website.

Kim also runs GoodVibeAstrology.com where she teaches the law of attraction and astrology. 

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month, hosts Save the Day Writer's Community on FB and posts a daily astrology weather report on Facebook. 

1 comment:

Kim Falconer said...

I love the warmth and hopefulness of Rachel A. Marks ending to Fire and Bone:

Faelan turns his attention to the rocks and moss between us. “My job ends today.”

I reach out and touch his arm, moving my thumb back and forth. I want to tell him he’ll always be my protector, but I don’t know that. I don’t know what my life will look like after today. I do know one thing, though. “You’re the one I want beside me,” I say.

He searches my face. A small smile lifts the corner of his mouth.

I lean in to him, resting my head on his shoulder, and hope Fate will let me hold on to this feeling—of home.