Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It'll get you in the End

Happy Wednesday!

Today's blog came about due to some horrific channel surfing over the week-end. My tech free week slowed me down on it- but alas I'm still doing it too much.

I watched the last 15 minutes of Star Wars. The last 15 minutes of Return of the Jedi. The last 20 minutes of Return of the King (LOTR). It wasn't planned, and to be honest I own all of those movies so I could have just plopped in a DVD and watched the entire thing. But no- I just sat there enjoying the endings.

I'm a serious, hard core geek. So those movies have been watched over and over and over. I could have probably said the lines along with them. Yet I stopped channel surfing to gaze at the last bits like a child with a new shiny toy.

I often do that, watch the very end of shows or movies that I've seen before. The endings for all my favorite shows are happy, so I get the happiness fix. I know the story, so I can get the nostalgia fix.

This made me think about movie endings. How many times have you walked away from a great movie, only to realize (upon reflection and sharing the story with friends) that it really wasn’t all that great really? But those last 15 minutes were amazing and changed your entire view.

This made me think about book endings. I know for myself a bad ending can ruin a book for me. There is one author I won’t really read anymore because she got to the point of “sudden stop” endings. I also call them “the author got bored and wanted to stop NOW” endings. Annoying and they started giving me whiplash.

Another problem can be a wonderful ending, but then upon reflection (see my note above about movies doing this) you realize they didn’t resolve a lot of the plot points. Then you get annoyed anew (or at least I do).

I’ve found that I have a tendency to rush my endings on the first draft. I get the bones in there, but they have no meat. I think it might be a side-effect of my Seat of The Pants style of writing. I’m as excited as a reader would be to see what happens next. But I can’t flip ahead in pages- so I just make it fast and dirty. Then do some serious restructuring afterwards.

I think many writers forget about the endings. We worry about that beginning hook and the middle that needs a girdle. But we don’t always focus on the finale, the piece de resistance that can make or break the 300 + pages of blood, sweat, and tears that came before. I now have a new appreciation for endings that I didn’t have before. The hook draws folks in, the middle keeps them there, but the ending has the power to stick with a reader long after the book has been read- and more importantly- makes them anxious for your next book ;).


  1. Hi, Marie. Interesting post. I've been thinking about endings lately too. I'm currently editing the end of my WIP. I tend to write out of sequence and often write the ending before the middle. Then during edits revise.

  2. I rush the endings too Marie. Oftentimes I find myself regretting my writing style despite the initial thrill. Then comes the hard part-- editing. I am knee deep in it.

    Finally I have a grasp on the beginning and middle of my first novel. Editing the end is my current project.

    Like you, I hope to provide readers that perfect blend of nostalgia and philosophical introspection.

    Happy writing!

  3. The famous author Mickey Spillane said, "Your first sentence sells the book. Your last sentence sells the next book," So yes, endings are important. Not that I'm in favor of dragged out endings. In my latest novel, COLD APRIL, I end it when the hero and heroine are reunited, having survived the sinking of the Titanic.

  4. Thanks for coming by Dawn Marie, Joy, and Phyllis! Great comments!