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The Final Pages

Posted by Priscilla on January 5, 2012

It is a crime how often writers cheat their readers out of a satisfactory ending.  After investing hours, even days, in a compelling story, readers can leave a novel with a sour taste in the mouth and a feeling of vague dissatisfaction.  Weary writers, ready to be done with their novel, can make the mistake of telling us how the story ends instead of actually writing the ending.  Or they may not bother to come up with an ending at all, perhaps at a loss themselves for how to end it.  Charlotte Bronte, who is clearly in a position, at this point anyway, to write however she likes, pulls this one in the ending of her novel, Villette (is this why no one's heard of this one?).  After getting the reader to care terribly about the happiness of her heroine, she is very vague and doesn't actually tell how the story ends.  She hints at a tragic death at sea of the heroine's lover, or says you can believe the happy ending if you choose.  The point is, the reader really just wants to know what happens.

And the reader doesn't want a summary.  The ending of your story is not the time to drop the dialogue, short-cut scene building, or leave relationships unresolved.  It is your chance to pay a respectful thanks to your devoted reader.  It's your time to deliver.  If you can't bring it home, no one's going to read your next novel.

 More on this topic at "The Final Pages" workshop at the Writer's Manor on Jan. 14th, 2012.  Posted by Valerie

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