As my last post was about beginnings, so this one is about ends.
Don’t worry – this isn’t the end!
Through my lunch break at work today I sat in a fog of thought about my novel Previously-Known-As-Silver. I’m actually working on a different novel at the moment but I know where I’m going with that so the problem-solving part of my grey matter is fixated on Silver-That-Was.
There are major plot issues, or maybe there aren’t. That’s part of my problem. Which actually all leads to how I would like the book to end. Should it have a nice simple plot with closure or should it run on?
I’m very close to finishing Terry Pratchett’s Dodger. It’s a very interesting novel and I do like it but I don’t feel as passionate about it as I have with other Pratchett novels. So much so, that I’m now waiting for it to end. I thought Monday night would be it. It felt that I was only a chapter away from closing the book but it turns out that last chapter is a long one.
So I picked it up again last night but still it goes on.
I can now say that in my opinion, Dodger should have ended a few pages ago. The main action is over, a climax has already been reached and I’m ready to close the book. Worse, I’m beginning to not care anymore. This is exacerbated by the fact that the plot seems to be going to extremes, maybe even approaching the territory of silly.
While I twisted and turned on my plot problems, I discovered this article about novel endings suggesting that ambiguous endings can be very powerful and truer to life. The writer is speaking from a literary viewpoint, which does not necessarily affect me, but it is an interesting point; can a story only lack closure if it is for an artistic reason?
Obviously everything in a book needs to be there. Every character, scene and action is there for a purpose, as is the ending. But if the message is about ambiguity then the ending has the freedom to be the same.
So what about the general consensus that every reader wants closure? Take my Dodger experience, for example. Or perhaps the end of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King that just went on and on. Maybe these stories are giving the reader too much closure.
In between finding our filter words (something else I learned only this week), weeding out needless adjectives, maintaining a pace and plot, removing all info dumping and developing likeable but interesting characters, we also need to give a satisfying and punctual ending.
How does a writer strike the right balance in an ending? I’m actually asking you, because right now I have no idea!
To calm myself down (I can feel my digital voice getting higher and higher), in my next post I will look at my favourite endings and by that point I might actually know how Dodger ends…