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This Is The End, My Only Friend… February 29, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in death, e-books, ideas, movies & TV, VIPub, writing.
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So sang Jim Morrison. For him it was pretty close, but in fiction you, as writer, should have *lots* of ends. One for each story you write. I addressed the need for a strong hook a couple days ago.

Now we get to the nether region of your writing. The end. You’ve wowed the reader with your title, put such a powerful hook in that first sentence/paragraph everyone reading it has to find out what’s going on, then you have the huge middle of the book, and finally, the end. The conclusion. The part that will keep readers thinking about your story for a long time.

I have pretty much come to hate Steven Spielberg’s endings because he doesn’t have confidence enough in his story to put *one* conclusion. He keeps tacking them on, one after another until you collapse from outrage, fatigue or laughing at such indecision. (Take a look at what might have been a classic tale in Kubrick’s hands, AI, and see what Spielberg did to it with the endless endings).

After all, you’ve invested the time to write a book, and a considerable outlay of effort it is, too. You wanted to say something. You want the reader to come away with some memory, some feeling, some call to action. You owe it to yourself to have that slambang end. Even better, the reader wants it, too, after surviving 80k or 100k words of all the harrowing perils your protagonist had gone through.

When you are initially plotting the book, you often jump around, pick a wonderful character, have a scene that has to be put in…and usually you come up with the end before anything else. From here, you can backward construct the book to reach this point.

Ending with a zinger line is hard (“here is the race that shall rule the sevagram”) Leaving with an emotional conclusion is easier. “Barker stepped into the saddle and turned his mare’s face toward the edge of town where Ruth waited for him. He hoped to hell he would know what to tell her before he got home.” Or one I like from Mask of the Sun: It didn’t pay to reach too fast for gold.

What is harder when it comes to endings are novels in a series. The book has to have a satisfactory ending but leave a cliffhanger for the next book. More on this later. I leave you by coming full circle with the title

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