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On finding an ending

January 9, 2010

Maybe this post will have a little more direction than my last one, the rambling mess about my fear of driving in snow.  (It’s still out there, man…)

I recently mentioned that my WotF Q2 story (candidate at least) ended with more melodrama than I prefer.  I tried to rework it today, scrapping the old ending and three new ones, finally settling on the quickest finale I could devise.  I still think it’s a bit over the top.

I may have set myself up.  My attempts to twist the protagonist until his head pops off have…well, forced his head to pop off.  There’s no gentle ending.  I think I can dial down the soap operatic final scene a little, but not much.  The question is, do I end with him popping his top or come back for a touchy-feely moment of morality?  So far I’m with the former.  The Aesop’s ending just doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the story.

I’ve had trouble with endings a lot of late.  I’m not sure why.  Part of it is lack of planning.  I plan a story to the middle and get so excited I have to write it.  I think Stephen King does that, too.  (Really, the hand of God?)  I blame the few times I had endings jump out of my subconscious fully formed and perfect.  My first sale, “Decisions, Decisions!” was one.  My biggest sale, “Chasers” was almost another (a reader’s misinterpretation made it better).  “Brother Goo” and “Faerie Belches” both evolved similarly.  Hey, these are all my sales here!  Let me check my bibliography…  Well I had the ending of “Blood of a Soldier” from the beginning (not terribly original, though); the end of “How Quickly We Forget” gave me a little trouble, but it was flash, as were “Occupational Dogma” and “In or Out”. The end of “Excuse Me” was kind of a stinker (no pun intended), but it really couldn’t have ended any other way.

So what does this mean?  Does this mean that my flashes of brilliance are so good that they sell my stories?  Or are my agonized-over endings so bad that the stories can’t sell?  Hmmm…

[Further analysis of stories deleted because no one really cares.]

So what can I do to bring about those strong endings again?  I could outline more, but that doesn’t guarantee the ending I plan will be the right one or even a good one.  I could start my planning with the ending, but that’s just asking for a Jar of Tang. I really think the problem I’m having is away time from the stories.  It’s tough to recapture the voice I was writing with three to six months ago.  Over the course of a long story or even a novel, that change in voice can be consumed by character growth.  But walking away from a struggling ending may make the ending feel tacked on or disjoint.  Or maybe I’m overthinking the whole thing.

Anyway, it’s time to get some readers for this story now, once I get a title, that is.  I’ve been calling it “Sound Story” for lack of title, but that ain’t going to work.  [Edited to remove title…I’ve been careless with contest entry titles of late.]  I’m sending it to my dad tomorrow.  I may post it to SFF OWW too, but it’s a bit long for that (8000+ words).  Good length for WotF I think.

I’m not sure if this story had any more direction than the last one.  Not much of an ending, is it?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2010 1:46 am

    If you want another set of eyes on it, I’m willing. Or you could post it to JBU… while they’re no longer accepting stories for the intro slots, they do seem to be still offering critique…

    • osomuerte permalink
      January 9, 2010 2:22 am

      I’d love for you to read it over. I really think I’ll use OWW because I’m paying for it and haven’t touched it in months. I even let a story of yours slip past there…shame on me. It should be up tomorrow, Monday at the latest.

      The story is based on my dad’s idea so I need him to read it. But he’s not very good at pinpointing his criticism, so I’ll definitely need eyes on it.

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