1. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    Ending a Novel

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Crystal Parney, Aug 10, 2012.

    Hello fellow creatures. I have some issues when it comes to ending my novels. As a writer I want my reader to feel satisfied when they finish my story. My endings seem to never quite 100% satisfy. Any tips and technigues how to bring a story to a satisfying ending?:eek:
     
  2. marktx
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    marktx Contributing Member

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    In order to create an emotionally satisfying ending, I strongly believe that the story itself has to operate on several levels.

    At the top level is what I call the "top-line" story. This is the adventure, or quest for the story's explicitly stated goal (solving the mystery, defeating the bad guy, finding the Holy Grail, whatever).

    But underneath the top-line story (and connected to it) is the "character story." This is the growth, development, and discovery that the protagonist undergoes on a personal level while pursuing the goals of the top-line story. Very often the protagonist begins with no realization of this deeper need within themselves, but in the course of pursuing the top-line story, they discover a deeper need and come to some higher truth about themselves.

    I've plugged this before, but it really bears consideration, so I'll mention it again. Robert McKee, who is the go-to guy in Hollywood for ensuring that movie script storylines pack the necessary emotional punch to leave the audience satisfied when the credits roll, has written a book called "Story" which explores this dynamic. I strongly recommend this book. He is focused on movie act structure, but the underlying principles of character arc are completely applicable to novels, and his book opened my eyes to ways to make my stories more compelling in ways that feel real to the reader/audience.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    It would depend on what you see as lacking. Also, "satisfied" is a very subjective standard. But I am assuming that you mean that you want the reader to feel that your story was worth the time (s)he invested in reading it.

    One of my favorite authors was James A. Michener, who wrote Hawaii, Centennial and Tales of the South Pacific. He once wrote that all of his stories "started in the middle and ended in the middle", and to a great extent I think that was true. His endings almost always had a sense that there was always more story to come. Since many of his novels were historicals, that's understandable, since there is always more "history" waiting to unfold. Love stories usually end with marriage or the expectation of marriage. And yet we know that in life, marriage isn't the end, it's the beginning. Coming of age tales bring the character to the precipice of adulthood with lessons painfully learned, but...life beckons. As the song "Closing Time" (Semisonic) so eloquently put it, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end". For the storyteller, it's more a matter of "every ending leads to a new beginning".

    Sorry, but I can't be more specific unless you have something specific that needs help. If you do, please feel free to PM me.
     
  4. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    Thank you! Both responses were very helpful.
     

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