I hate endings, whether it’s the end of a story or the end of a character’s life, they can be painful to imagine and harder to write.
When you’re writing, you can tell when a story is reaching the end. Events all move to bring your main characters together at the same point. Usually, there is nothing left of the plot at this time, except for the explanation of it all, the justification for what has happened or the big reveal, where one side tells the other what has gone on and motives are all brought out.
Hopefully, by this time you (the reader) have got an idea of what’s going to happen; so you are either pleased to have got it right, or pleased to have been misled and amazed that you missed the clues, the re-telling of which very often form part of the final scenes.
And if you’re not careful, the end can be the worst part of the story. Recently I’ve had two different reactions to the end of my work.
One book seems to have ended too soon for a lot of readers, they have all said that they need to know more, so it looks like I’m going to have to write a sequel. The intention wasn’t to short-change them, I really thought the ending was appropriate.
It’s gratifying to get feedback like that; I take it to mean that I’d managed to create characters real enough that people wanted to know more about them and to care about their futures enough to want to find out what I think happened next.
The other book has ended in an anti-climactic way for some, although not all, readers. Apparently, I upped the tension more than the ending could take and it was all a bit flat. That is my failing and I have to hold my hands up, but in my defence, that’s how it unfolded in my head. Again, that wasn’t a universal response; other people said the ending was good.
I guess that just goes to prove that every review is subjective, everyone has things that they like and dislike, I have reviews that alternately praise and criticise the same thing in a story.
I’m grateful for all the comments I get, good or bad.
It can be strange the things that some people like though, minor characters that attract attention or little bits of subplot that seem to grab someone’s attention. Or even the things that they see in my story that I hadn’t intended, or realised the significance of when I was writing.
And then there’s part two of the first sentence, the end of a character.
For me, killing a character is the hardest thing that I do, and even when the plot demands a sacrifice I still find it difficult. After all, I’ve brought them to life, giving them every attribute of independence, thoughts, words and free will, or at least the appearance of it. Very often, they will write themselves little extras, ideas that pop into my head to give them more life and realism as their part in the tale progresses.
And yet, in the back of my mind is the knowledge that they must expire. Like the one in a red shirt in Star Trek, some are doomed from the start. And their demise is often necessary to move the plot along; after all, you can’t have a murderer without victims. I suppose that they can be killed off before the story starts but where’s the logic in doing that every time? And where’s the fun of writing it?
There are some characters that seem to have been created for that very purpose. Yet, once they start to live, they will grow on me. I catch myself wondering if they really have to go. Couldn’t I save them…, just this once…?
But it never works.
And believe me; I’ve tried other ways to keep them alive. I’ve tried banishing them by making them ride off into the sunset or by injuring them so they take no further part in events but they sit there in the back of my mind, knocking on the door of my creativity demanding another go. And I’ve even offered some of them a story all of their own, just to get a bit of peace.
And when it’s all over, and the last sight has faded from their eyes, I feel the remorse, almost as if I had done the deed myself, and maybe in a way, I’m guilty.
In which case, I’ll need you to take several other offences into consideration.
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