Monday, April 25, 2011

Endings Are Not Easy

I think I pay a lot more attention to revising the opening of my novel than I do to revising the ending. By the time I get to the ending, most of the loose ends are worked out. It's like I feel, along with the characters, that the tension is over (and the tension of making all those revisions, too) and it's time to chill a little.

I've written before about what I think is important in a story ending. But after reading what James Scott Bell has to say in Plot and Structure, I think my ending needs a little more attention. Some of his points that stuck with me are the need to sum up the characters feelings and the emphasis on carefully choosing words and descriptions.

Bell recommends generating at least 10 alternative endings, then waiting a day or two, and then choosing the top 4, deepening them and choosing the one with the best twist. Hmm. I've tried 2 different endings for my story, but I might try this, just to see if I come up with something that's even more exciting. I want to create an ending that will make the reader think, wow!

13 comments:

  1. Yes on the wow ending! And wow on the suggest to come up with 10 possibles then work from there. Like that .

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  2. That's a lot of brainstorming! But I love the concept. Thanks.

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  3. Ten alternate endings? Yikes. I know the ending--in general--but not the specifics until I'm in the last 25% of the story. I write it. Put it away for a bit and then add to and tighten it. I've occasionally had two different ending, but mostly a shading change, or POV.

    I think it also depends upon the type story your writing and where you're going from there. But your HEA needs impact, imo.

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  4. Ten alternative endings? WOW.

    But I do agree on the importance of endings. It's what a reader will remember most. :)

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  5. Wow - I think I'm a lot like you with the endings. By the time I get there, I've wrapped everything up and am ready to move on. But you make a good point that the ending should be WOW! I'll have to think about this for awhile.

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  6. This is an interesting concept! I love this. Even though I'm starting to write my new novel, I like to know my ending before I even start writing. BUT I'm having a hard time deciding what kind of ending I want. It's hard to decide. I might have to write a couple different versions and let you decide! :-)

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  7. I always say to myself, "Pfft, I'm not going to write a bunch of alternate endings. Too much work." But guess what ends up happening? I end up rewriting a new ending scene on every revision. This might just be the shorter version.

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  8. 10 endings? Seriously? I'm lucky if I can think of 1! But perhaps, therein lies the problem....

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  9. Yeah, ten seems like a lot to me too. But I guess if you keep thinking, you're going to come up with the less obvious, more unique solution that might be the one that makes your reader say "wow".

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  10. Ten! TEN! Eek! Hm. I write a genre that pretty much needs a happy ending, so I'm not sure how alternative I can get with that. But it's an interesting idea!

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  11. I love this idea! Not sure if I can come up with TEN alternative endings, but I think that exploring possibilities will help me avoid being predictable!

    I keep seeing references to Bell's book...I'm gonna have to get me a copy :)

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  12. Whoa, 10 endings? I must have glanced over that when reading P&S. Ha.

    But event though it is a pain I totally think you should write ALL of the endings you have out. Thinking about them and writing them out are two different things.

    Writing them out does wonders and can help you decide which is best (although time consuming).

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  13. This is such a good thing to bring to writers' attention I think. When I'm reading, I really appreciate a satisfying, exhilarating, one-last-thrill-before-you-close-the-book ending. But its true that I may labour less over the endings of my stories than I do over the beginnings!

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