When writing a novel or a story, I struggle with endings. I have ideas that start well and build to solid middles, but deciding how to end a novel is always the most difficult part of the process for me. Currently, the struggle is with my work in progress. It’s not that I don’t know how I want the story to end, it’s just putting one word after another down on the page to get there in the right way to evoke the right response.
Usually when I struggle like this, it helps to pick up a writing book and review the basics. To that end, I picked up an old Writer’s Digest book called, Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress. The title of her section on endings is this: Satisfying Endings, Delivering on the Promise. Right away I’m inspired, I do believe that a story, a novel, is a promise. A promise that the reader will be entertained, moved, inspired, etc. all the way to the last word.
So, I go back to the document and ponder the ending with this thought in mind, being true to the story and the readers with every bit of the last few thousand words. My characters are perched on the cliff, ready for the climax and the final struggle, the final knock down drag out.
From Nancy Kress:
- The climax must satisfy the view of life implied in your story
- The climax must deliver emotion
- The climax must deliver an appropriate level of emotion
- The climax must be logical to your plot and story
Since I was a police officer, I like rules. I look and these four rules and even though they are basic, and I’ve read them many times before, they help right now and I’m jazzed. (Many of you are probably saying there are no hard and fast rules, or rules were made to be broken, but when I in a tough spot, rules work for me) I can dive into the last few pages of my novel, thinking about these statements or rules and hopefully create a compelling, realistic ending. I’ll tie up what needs to be tied up, resolve what needs to be resolved, and most importantly leave the reader glad he/she read the book.
Does anyone else out there have ideas about what to do when they struggle in the process?