Starting the Ending

My dad asked me the other day how I come up with endings for my books, and my response was, “Uhhhh…well…um…yeah…I…I don’t know.  I mean…I just do.”

So yeah, that’s not very helpful.  But it did make me realize that while I have talked extensively about how to begin a book, I haven’t really touched on the ending at all.  I think the reason for that is that it never seemed like something I’d need to talk about.  See, I hate to brag, but the endings for my books usually just come to me.  About halfway through the book, I’ll have a small revelation while I’m writing that will clearly detail how my book is going to end.  And then I go, “Ohhh, so that’s how it’ll end!” and then I keep writing.  And when I get to the end of the book, I write the ending pretty much how I imagined it, and that’s that.  I might just have assumed that it happens for everyone that way, and I might just have been wrong.

So we’re going to talk a bit about conclusions today.  But first!  There is a character in Grotesque named Dinah.  She is a six-year-old girl, and I don’t like her name.  So I’m going to change it (God I’m starting a lot of sentences with “So” today), and for the first time ever, YOU are going to get to help decide.  I figure you just got done voting for president, so you’re in the voting spirit.  I’ve created a nice little poll here for you to use.  Go ahead and vote.  Please only do it once.  I disabled the thing that uses Cookies to prevent you from voting multiple times because I don’t really like Cookies (of the computational variety).  Yes there are only two choices, but that is because the others (I use www.babynames.com to find names that have appropriate meanings) were unappealing to me.  E.g. Chipo, Donatella, Matias, etc.  The name meaning I was going for was “Gift.”  So here’s the poll:

UPDATE: The poll doesn’t appear to be showing up, so if you can’t see it, just vote using the comments.  The two names are Nita and Danya.

I’ve already talked too long, and there aren’t even pictures, so I’ll probably split this into two posts so you don’t get bored.  I’ll just do a brief introduction to Ending the Novel.

The ending for your book is largely up to you, and it is honestly very hard to pin down any universal rules for writing it.  Here’s why: If you want to make your ending vague, that’s up to you.  If you are planning on writing one or more sequels to your book, that changes how the ending is going to be.  If your favorite color is blue, then you might write an ending entirely differently from a person whose favorite color is puce.  Here’s my opinion on endings: I once wrote a Facebook status after reading the series that begins with Blue is for Nightmares, by Laurie Faria Stolarz.  I finished reading the last book in the series, and then I said, “How can you even think to contrive a happily ever after that is more like a mildly happy present with a fairly good chance of a felicitous outcome? The ending to a book shouldn’t read like a weather forecast!”

That’s my opinion.  I’ve read a lot of books for work recently that have had really inconclusive and frustrating endings.  If you’re going to write an ending for your book, then write it with conviction.  Even if it’s vague, or purposefully inconclusive, write it like you mean it.  Trust me, it shows.  Your book shouldn’t just peter out once the story’s wound down.  Okay, I’ll talk more about this with more pictures in another post.  For now, enjoy strip #2 of Writer’s Block!

(Click to enlarge)

Word of the Day: Contrive (v) – To plan with ingenuity; devise; invent.

P.S. Results for the Poll will be posted next week sometime, or whenever I get around to writing the next post.

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8 Comments

Filed under books, Comic, Humor, writing

8 responses to “Starting the Ending

  1. I vote Danya. Nita reminds me of what they’d name a hurricane.

  2. It showed up initially, then disappeared. No worries, I haven’t figured that stuff out myself!

  3. Thanks so much for your patience and feedback. It looks like it’s showing up for everyone but me. I’m still going to leave the note up there about voting in the comments, just to cover my bases.

  4. That’s how my endings come to me as well. I wonder how they come to those who plot meticulously from the get-go? I’m determined to find such a person and ask now!

    • Just stand on the street with a sign that says, “Are you a writer who plots your story meticulously from the get-go?” I’m sure no one will find that weird, and that you will get the answer to your question. If you do, let me know. I’m curious about that as well.

  5. I hate endings where it seems like the writer just got tired of writing. Indeed.

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