Writing Endings is Hard

Writing endings is hard for me—not because I have to decide what happens but also how and why it happens. Endings are more than just the who, what, when, and where. That stuff is basic storytelling logistics. The hard part, in my opinion, is the emotion behind the words. Engineering a specific feeling or, at the very least, a combination of storytelling mechanics that gives readers the space to feel a certain way.

You know when you read a story that just “feels” right and makes you feel…something? Yeah, well my ending doesn’t have the “feels right” thing yet—not all of it, anyway—and I’ve rewritten it many times. The best part? Chances are if I don’t feel it (whatever “it” is), then neither will the reader.

Parts of my ending I am happy with. I edited and sliced things that weren’t working with my updates on the rest of the story. I even added an epilogue with content I originally thought would work well as an opening to Book II though, after further thought, I decided it would feel out-of-place there and instead would be a better end cap to Book I. (It’s told from a secondary character’s perspective in a place that the protagonist can’t physically be, but it helps to add a sense of resolution after the protagonist’s story ends.) Also, during my rewriting slog in this very narrow—yet highly important—section of my novel, I came up with some more material to use in the second book.

Still, I’ve got a few paragraphs (the last of the final chapter) that I’m just not sure how I want to swing.

Thing is…I don’t think this is something that can or should be forced. Since I’ve been stuck on this for a few weeks now, I decided to leave what I have and continue working on the rest of my rewrites and edits. That should give my subconscious enough space to work something out in the meantime. (It’s crazy what your brain can do while you sleep/eat/live or otherwise do stuff that has nothing to do with the thing you actually want it to do.)

I’ve already gotten some of my larger rewrites done during this slog, so that’s nice. Today, I’m just going to skim through and see which parts have the largest sections that still need rewrites so I can work on those over the next couple of weeks then print those out and scribble down any edits I might need to do on just those parts. (Anytime you change something, imo, it needs to be examined in the scope of the larger framework surrounding it to make sure it still flows.) Then I can work on all the other edits—the easier stuff like grammar, missing words, the order of words, sentence structure, word choice, etc.—from beginning to end. That way, the chronology of the story is fresh in my mind, and I’m seeing it as the reader does.

That’s the plan, anyway!

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11 thoughts on “Writing Endings is Hard

  1. I found writing the ending of my WIP fairly easy. Which bothers me! I’ve revisited it several times but cannot find anything wrong with it, which also bothers me! I did plan the ending in some detail early on and wrote it more or less as planned. My subconscious isn’t much help at the moment, finding more problems than solutions. I’m also synopsizing the WIP, slowly and not so surely. But I’ll keep on keeping on! Best of luck with your ending, Tiyana, and thanks for sharing your writing journey.

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    • Of course! Thanks for reading. 😀

      Sometimes I’m just stubborn and will keep at something or overthink stuff rather than just take a break and “sleep on it,” as they say. Sometimes that break can be a day, or a week, or a month… As long as I’ve got other things to work on that don’t hinge on that one problem, it usually works out. 🙂

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  2. Endings are very important — one reason I’m sick of superhero movies is that they never really have endings (there’s always another movie coming). I just wrote a bog post about the Resident Evil movie series, which had an ending that the writer had planned for since the first movie, and it’s perfect. That’s what a good ending does — it satisfies. It doesn’t necessarily make you happy, but it satisfies.

    One time I wrote the ending first, for one story, but then one character wasn’t smart enough to play his part, and another (smarter) character took over. Instead of a tense standoff with a lot of guns, I had an ending with two crazy middle-aged women sitting on a rooftop and talking. It was fine.

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  3. Hi Chandra. You and I are on the same wavelength. My July post is a muse on endings in fiction and life. I’m very interested in how writers decide on endings. Do you know the ending at Chapter one or do you discover it along the way? What makes an ending satisfying? Nice to discover your blog.

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  4. “You know when you read a story that just “feels” right and makes you feel…something?”

    YES. I know this feeling and always try to copy it but succeed 1/10 times. That feeling. That whatever it is. The feeling that you’re inside that world and when you’re done reading it, you remember it. You don’t remember reading it, you remember BEING THERE like it was part of your own life.

    I have the opposite problem…beginnings! A few years ago I read an article that was “11 famous beginnings to novels,” and it’s been a nagging shoulder-angel ever since. It has to be perfect! Of course that just sends me into a tailspin of unproductivity.

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    • Hi, JP! Good to hear from you. 😀 Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, haha.

      Yes, beginnings can be just as tricky! Seems like there’s so much pressure to get these parts right, yet the more you try to wrestle them into submission, the more they get away from you… *le sigh*

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