Friday, March 20, 2015

The End: Full Disclosure or Open to Interpretation?

Hi, Karlie with you today!
Today I want to talk about endings. There’s a lot of hype attached to the beginning of novels – that first sentence, that first page, that first chapter. It’s been preached many times. You have to hook the attention of your reader (and that elusive agent!) from the get-go. And don't get me wrong -this is completely true. However, by the time we get close to the end, we’ve forgotten the beginning. Our attention is fully wrapped up in the characters and plot. If you’re like me, the ending is only satisfactory about half the time. Why? Either it wrapped up too soon, leaving me wondering and with a sour taste in my mouth, or it went in a direction I didn't want it to.

I rarely prefer an open ending. I want everything wrapped up nicely. Now, this doesn’t mean I always have to have a happy ending. I actually like the bittersweet ones better – they seem more true-to-life somehow. But I do want some closure.

On the other hand, some people like to envision their own ending for the characters they’ve grown close to. I've talked to a few avid readers who say they only remember the books that left a few loose ends lying around - on the contrary, those drive me crazy. I need everything in a neat package. 

What about you guys? Share your experiences with endings, and let us know what type you prefer!

Dan: Endings are tough. Often I have something in mind as I'm in the midst of writing a story or book, and I rarely deviate from that. I personally like a twist ending that the readers don't see coming. For books, though, I tend to think in more epic terms, so I'm all about closing one door and opening another. The character makes it home safe but learns that there's a new journey in store.

Lisa: I love writing open endings but every time I end up changing it because my writer friends...well, they always want something more finite. So, I give in, and I have to admit my story is usually the better for it. One day I'm going to write a story where it's right to leave the ending opening to interpretation. The funny thing is, I don't like reading a book that has an open ending. Now, that has me thinking--if I don't like reading them, then maybe it's not such a great idea to write them.

Caitlin: I like to have a few things open. Certainly, the character arc needs to be complete, but I don’t think every minute detail needs to be wrapped up with a bow. Then again, my agent asked me to add an ending chapter to HEARTSICK and my editor asked me to add an ending one to RED BLOODED. And, even after adding that “wrap up” chapter to HEARTSICK, several reviewers have commented that they wanted even more closure, heh.

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