The End is Nigh?


I‘m a little late to the party, but wanted to add my appreciation of Elizabeth Spann Craig‘s The Writer’s Knowledge Base, a searchable database of people’s writing tweet links. Curious about character, dialogue or,  as I was, endings? Just type in the keyword and a wealth of blogs fall at your fingertips.

That’s how I found this entry in Beyond the Margins. Robin Black discusses a different approach to endings, thinking of them as givings or natural breaks where the reader then hands the story off to the reader.

I like that idea because I love when I finish a story satisfied with the ending the author wrote and yet find myself spending more time with the characters in my head…that magic point where I’m happy the book ended the way it did and am horribly sad that there’s no more to read.

Then Robin identified three types of givings.

1Endings that reference the future.

2Endings with a metaphor requiring interpretation.

3Endings that evoke an alternate reality. Not in the science fiction sense, but in the psychological one.  … In other words, though this is the end to the story, the character has a different set of possibilities in mind…

I tend to write endings that reference the future. I like main points to be clarified, of course, but I love the hint and promise of more to come. That’s why I’m not a fan of epilogues. If you tell me definitively what happens down the road, I can’t imagine it for myself. No fun.

Do you have certain types of endings that you like or dislike? Do those match up to what kind you write?


9 thoughts on “The End is Nigh?

  1. Thanks for the link first of all. 🙂

    As for endings … Hmm. I’ve never found myself doing something really conclusive (“and they lived happily ever after”).
    For my last NaNoWriMo I did have something like an epilogue, but it will never be read by anyone else. I needed to write it because I personally had to put into words “what happened next”.
    I am usually in favour of hinting at possibilities in the end. The future perhaps, but I think I’m leaning towards the alternate reality. The protagonist has an idea of what is to come, and he may or may not be right – we won’t know for sure.

  2. Hm… I like endings that offer a resolution but hint at the future and give me space to imagine everything going exactly the way I think things should go. 😛 Hate cliffhanger endings! It pretty much guarantees that I’ll dislike the book. This is why I’d be wary of writing a trilogy. It’d be incredibly hard to make each installment work well as a standalone but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  3. I’m a fan of these kinds of endings, especially if I’ve really loved the book. They enable me to keep things going in my head so I don’t need to so quickly grieve the loss of the characters I’ve come to love, and their adventures. Of course I do want some resolution – there’s nothing worse than a cliff hanger at the end of a book!

  4. As a reader, and although I like the Margaret Atwood books I’ve read very much, I am always frustrated by the way she just ends her books. Perhaps I’ve been too conditioned by tv and the like, but her books just end! I’m always turning the page, expecting another chapter or two to appear.

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