March 13, 2012


Whenever I write, the hardest thing I find to do is the ending.  Beginnings are hard, because you want to capture the interest of your reader or listener, or what have you.  But endings are trouble.  The last thing your reader will read or your listener will hear is the end of whatever it is you're working on.  That's a lot of pressure.

Sometimes an ending can be unsatisfactory, but fitting, leaving the audience with a hollow feeling but complete.  I think I like those endings best.  It allows one to contemplate how the situation might have ended up differently, or to ruminate upon why it doesn't sit well with them.  In other words, it makes the person think more about why the like or dislike a piece than being left satisfied.  Rather like having a fine meal, but getting a small portion leaving you slightly hungry, but no longer wanting; unsatisfied, but complete.

Too often we get spoon fed this idea of happy endings.  I have nothing against happy endings.  I think they're great.  They inspire hope when all seems lost and that's a pretty wonderful thing.  But often times, the 'happy ending' seems to come at the expense of integrity.  For example:  the ending to Harry Potter.  (Spoilers?  I don't know if this could still be spoiled.)  For me, this seemed to be a happy ending at the expense of integrity, and here's why.  Leading up to the end of the series was the question:  "will Harry live or will Harry die?"  Rowling chose to satisfy both sides by faking his death.  Sure, one can argue that Harry made the choice to return from the dead, but overall I felt like this was a cop out happy ending.  It left me feeling satisfied but incomplete.

What of the ending that is satisfactory and leaves one feeling complete?  I'm not sure how I feel about these.  I always turn to Jane Austin as an example of satisfactory, complete happy endings.  She has a way of wrapping up her work so neatly that I really enjoy (at least from what I've read of her).  I suppose if a piece of work is well done, these kinds of endings appeal to me.  If they aren't, they don't really cause me to think or dwell on them in a way I think the artist wants me to.  I could pretty much take them or leave them.

I'm not sure I need to say anything about unsatisfactory, incomplete endings.  Those are the worst.  Especially when it's not a cliff-hanger interlude to the next book but when the series is truly over.  Those frustrate me immensely and I have to wonder if the author thinks they're being profound or novel.  Sure, life doesn't get all tied up neatly, but that doesn't mean your work can't be finished!  Unless you're dead.  If you're dead, you are excused.  There's not a lot you can do about that.

To conclude:  endings are tricky.  I haven't really managed to get the hang of them yet.  I feel like mine are in the incomplete unsatisfactory stage which is unacceptable.  But I keep trying and will keep trying until I get them right.

Edit:  On second thought, maybe the hardest thing to do is spell check.

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