Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The End - Or Is It?

I’m in a bind and need help.

I finished my novella some time ago and absolutely loved my ending. It left me endeared to my characters and a smile on my face. I felt that even though the story is a little creepy with a couple of evil characters, the ending would leave the reader feeling good. After all, those evil characters were put in their place--so to speak.
However, I sent my manuscript to beta readers and agreed with all their suggestions. They were easy to make. One, whose opinion I really value because she reads across the board, said she thought my ending needed more punch. The story didn’t end with action--just a sweetness. I could see exactly what she meant. My sweet ending was easily incorporated into “the punch” except for one thing: I have no ending now. I don’t have satisfaction, a paragraph or two that makes me feel the story has truly ended. I can’t find that comfortable wrap-up, and that final satisfying sentence that makes me nod, or smile or wipe away a tear.
I keep putting my characters in different locations to see if something sparks my imagination: a brother’s condo where they share a cup of coffee and wrap up loose ends. Doesn’t work.
I’ve put them in a hotel, in the breakfast bar, with swollen eyes from weeping and lack of sleep. That’s okay, but I don’t have the right dialogue for a wrap-up.
Now, I’m investigating them standing around a safety-deposit box, discovering some things they didn’t know. They’re together and they’re getting more answers. This seems like just one more chapter I’ll need before the final wrap-up.
My endings have always been fairly easy, evolving from the characters and their situation. I’m at a complete loss.
Do you know your ending before you finish your book? If not, how do you determine what works and what doesn’t, and what leaves the reader satisfied? Do you change your ending often? If you have no clue to your ending, how do you create one?
I'm desperate for comments and suggestions.


mooderino said...

Coincidentally I just wrote a blog post about this very subject on my blog. Maybe you'll find it useful.

Moody Writing

Rubye Jack said...

I never know the ending until it happens. Big help aren't I? :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I almost never know my ending before I am about 3 quarters of the way done with a book. I judge it strictly by "feel" I don't think an ending has to have a huge "punch." It has to leave the reader with an emotional feeling, a catharsis in many books.

Debra Harris-Johnson said...

I like what I call the "double edged sword ending." That is, it neatly ties up loose ends but allows the reader to interpret the ending.
You know the book everyone is talking about that each person gets something different from the ending.
They use this a lot in movies. Fatal Attraction comes to mind as a good example.
Of course I never read your novella so this may not be appropriate but it certainly works if you are going to do a sequel.

Lynn said...

I kind of knew my ending, but I'm still working on it because I don't think it has the punch it needs as well... and I'm not sure how to go about it either. Wah.