1. Carthonn
    Offline

    Carthonn Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    407
    Likes Received:
    32

    The ending = Most important part

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Carthonn, May 12, 2009.

    As I read and watch movies I'm starting to see a pattern with my likes and dislikes of books/movies. If I'm not satisfied with the ending than nothing else matters. So I'm wondering, perhaps I should be concerning myself with an emotional, satisfying and even more so believable ending than anything else. Anyone approach writing this way?

    I just remember, in school, when writing my papers I would leave the opening paragraph (the basic topic sentence and all that necessary crap) for the end with great success and ease.
     
  2. Carthonn
    Offline

    Carthonn Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    407
    Likes Received:
    32
     
  3. Emmy
    Offline

    Emmy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    2
    To answer your question, no, I don't approach writing that way, though I see your point.

    My endings come from my feelings on the subject. Very seldom do I write something and not already have a vague idea of the ending. I don't write in what I would call a circle; where the ending influences the beginning and middle; I try to keep it as true to form as possible. The emotion may be up for debate, but the events of the ending itself usually are not.

    That said, my current novel's ending wasn't a surprise as much as it was unexpected. I knew how it would eventually end, but I didn't realize all the parts that would go into the ending - all the people I would feel obligated to include, all the thoughts from earlier passages, etc. It turned out to be very satisfying, to be honest. :)
     
  4. starseed
    Offline

    starseed Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Messages:
    293
    Likes Received:
    2
    I am still on my first book, so I can't speak for my stories in the future, but I saw the ending of my book before I had even figured out what I wanted to happen in the beginning, so yeah I know what you're talking about.
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It depends on the story. I don't consciously design a story in a perticular sequence. Sometimes my initial idea for the story comes from an ending scene, other times it grows from the initial conditions. Still others come from a key scene in the middle.

    One of the two novels I'm working on developed from a short story. The short story was written for a challenge to sacrifice a life to save other lives. My flashbulb moment was for someone with an extraordinarliy long life - virtually an immortal - to choose to give his life to save a special woman. So that was the planned culmination of the story.

    By the time it was nearly complete, I saw an even better ending. The original final moment remained the climax, but not the final word. Then the new ending sparked a sequel short story. Now both short stories are woven into a novel in progress, and the original "ending" is a key transition point, but near the middle of the novel.

    The other novel I'm working on is growing from the initial dilemna I placed by cast of characters in. I have a pretty good idea now of what the ending is, but even that may change as I get closer.

    One of my favorite short stories, the first thought I had was the final scene, where he finds himself in an elevator, face to face with the woman he met in his dreams, and it stayed unchanged throughout the writing process.
     
  6. Emmy
    Offline

    Emmy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    2
    LOL, Cog. And here I thought you were a die hard Sci-Fi writer, based on your other posts. (Yes, I claim ignorance for not actually asking this question bluntly before assuming) When it seems you might actually have a flair for romance.
    :p
     
  7. CharlieVer
    Offline

    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Raritan, NJ
    IMHO, this is the problem (sometimes) with Stephen King.

    Some of his books are very good books with terrible endings, or no ending at all. He also at times has attempted to use the "Lady or the Tiger" ending, leaving everything at a cliffhanger.

    In my opinion, unless the story is a serial and there actually WILL be a continuation, the only place the "Lady or the Tiger" ending should be used, is in the story, "The Lady or the Tiger."

    That was the problem with King's Cell, which was otherwise one of my favorite of his books.
     
  8. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    I disagree because the ending has to fit the rest of the story; if the parts leading up to it are awful, then so will the ending. Take "The Sixth Sense" for example: everyone talks about the 'twist' at the end the MNS wrote...but that alone didn't make the movie-the rest of the story did.
     
  9. BillyxRansom
    Offline

    BillyxRansom Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    371
    Likes Received:
    1
    this x 10,000,000
     
  10. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    I remember, I think in a Woody Allen movie, he said, "Your whole movie can be slow and not very exciting, but if you can WOW them at the end, then you got something. But if your whole movie is great and the ending sucks, no one will remember it, it failed." Something like that.
     
  11. Primitive
    Offline

    Primitive Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Dean Koontz is probably a writer i think of when i think decent writer who can't finish a novel off to save his life. (Before his books became repetetive). I used to enjoy rading his books (Around the time he wrote "In the Corner of His eye" or whatever it was called. But all the ending after (and early early stuff) felt "meh" at best. Id put the book down and not think about it. I havent read his recent ones though, which i have heard are better.

    I have to say though, as important as an ending is, the start has to be better. Cause if i don't like the book i have picked up, i'll never see the ending.
     
  12. CharlieVer
    Offline

    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Raritan, NJ
    I actually just finished "From the Corner of His Eye" on audiobook recently. I liked it a lot -- and most of what I've read by Dean Koontz I've liked a lot. A few I didn't care for, and sometimes I think he's too preachy on libertarian views, and at least once I thought he stereotyped liberals which, as a liberal, I resented -- but I actually think he's a very good writer. I love his "Odd Thomas" series and, at least the first "Frankenstein" book was very good. I've seen a few people not like Dean Koontz here in these boards.

    His villains aren't as varied as I'd like to see, but his heroes are well developed. Stephen King's characters are even better developed, heroes and villains, but King is too wordy, worse than Koontz in that regard.

    Dean Koontz, honestly, though certainly flawed, is one of my favorites.
     
  13. Life705
    Offline

    Life705 Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    We all hate good films/books with awful endings... it is definitely the most important and challenging part of a story. In my experience, if I cant think of a good ending, it isn't worth writing.
     
  14. Carthonn
    Offline

    Carthonn Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    407
    Likes Received:
    32
    Like sitting here right now I have 2 ideas for short stories. One where I have an ending and one where I am still unsure /don't think the ending is very strong one. I feel like the one where I am dead set on an ending is far superior even though I like thinking and writing about the other one.
     
  15. psyence53
    Offline

    psyence53 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2009
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Within The Confines Of My Mind
    Sometimes endings complete a story, but you are left with the rest of the film. I watched a Japanese film called After-Life, and that has stayed with me since, from the beautifully acted story throughout, and the meaning behind the film. The ending was good too. The ITV drama Compulsion, was on/off,but the ending sealed it for me. The ending was the best bit to me. And One Hour Photo, where you can sort of see it coming, completes it. Then there's Oldboy, the ending and the rest of the film can hold no comparison. If you've seen it, maybe you will understand.

    So I wouldn't say the ending is the most important part. If someone watches or reads to the end, they were likely to have been impressed thus far, and while you could look at that as pressure for a good ending, it depends what they made of the rest. An ending can make or break something, but if the rest is done just right, it can either make it that much better, or it can just make no difference.

    Just my opinion though :)

    (On a side note, the end of the music video for "Wrong" by Depeche Mode made it for me)
     
  16. TragicJuliet
    Offline

    TragicJuliet Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Arizona, US
    I do think an ending does decide the fate of a book or a movie but I don't think a "good " ending nessecarily means a happy ending. The ending needs to make the audience FEEL something, if it is a sad ending that sad ending needs to have a purpose. Like one of my favorite authors Nicholas Sparks, I think his books rarely have a fairy tale happy ending. But I will read "The Notebook" and "Nights in Rodanthe" until my eyes bleed.
     
  17. afinemess
    Offline

    afinemess Active Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Messages:
    253
    Likes Received:
    10
    The end of my book was the first thing I wrote, and I basically started evolving the entire plot around how to get to the end. Of course, the plot has taken some twists and turns now, but I still am reaching the same end. I read the end of books first anyway, because I want to know if it was worth my time. Gone with the Wind tramatized me.
     
  18. g1ng3rsnap9ed
    Offline

    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A small town called Pox...
    The ending isn't the most important part, the journey there is, and so are the characters you meet along the way. ;)

    With that said, I do truly despise crappy endings. :D
     
  19. KP Williams
    Offline

    KP Williams Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Messages:
    608
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    My place
    I don't really see how the ending is the most important thing when a horrible beginning can keep you from reading the rest of the story at all. For me, I don't care how amazing the story's ending is if I can't stand the beginning; I'm not going to read it.
     
  20. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    no way!... the most important part of any story is the opening... if that [and what comes after it] is not good enough to hook the readers and keep them hooked till they get to the end, it won't matter how good the ending is...
     
  21. TereFaerie
    Offline

    TereFaerie Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2009
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree that a great beginning is the key to writing a good book people will read.

    But I think a good satisfying ending is the key to writing a good book people will remember.

    Great discussion!
     
  22. Ghosts in Latin
    Offline

    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    2
    I think you should watch the movie, "Adaption" with Nicolas Cage. It's hilarious, in a very ironic way.
     
  23. Kester
    Offline

    Kester New Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    As long as the rest of it is good enough to let you reach that ending, it's fine to work for it.

    Totally, polar-opposite disagreement here. I think that sure, there's a time and a place for it, but "The Lady or the Tiger" ending can add so so much to a work. Think of it like an advanced form of audience participation, to get people involved in the ending themselves. And though it clearly isn't your cup of tea, it has certainly left an impression on you ;)
     
  24. CharlieVer
    Offline

    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Raritan, NJ
    We can agree to disagree, of course...

    The problem with the "Lady or the Tiger" ending (the cliffhanger that has no resolution) is it leaves the reader dissatisfied.

    Add to a work, not to give your readers the satisfaction of knowing the resolution of the story? It seems to me, rather, that it makes the reader feel they just wasted a great deal of valuable time.

    Yes, it left an impression on me... like a very troubling odor in a bathroom can leave an impression. It wasn't a good one!

    How do you think Harry Potter fans would have enjoyed it, if she ended the series with Harry hanging on for dear life at the edge of a cliff, Voldamort waving his wand, Harry screaming, and then saying, "Did Harry live or did he die? We'll never know." And then just walking away from the series?

    On the other hand, if there's a sequel, that, I can handle, as in a serial, such as the end of the Dark Tower story where Blaine the mono is carrying the Gunslingers swiftly towards their doom, to be continued in the next story. But even that has its downside. Stephen King later wrote of a woman who wrote him, who had terminal cancer, and wanted to know what happens next, and whether they'd ever read the Dark Tower and what would happen there. He couldn't answer her because he didn't know himself, and she probably died never knowing how one of her favorite stories turns out.
     
  25. Kas
    Offline

    Kas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    The ***hole of the world
    Am I the only one who just doesn't care?:confused:

    I never race through a book to see how it ends. I keep turning pages to discover what happens next. If I don't care what happens in the next chapter I stop reading. 90% of my time is spent reading, well, um.. the first 90% of the book. If the book is really great then I probably won't enjoy the ending. I dread the end of a positive experience. That's why I like reading 10,000 page epic stories. Books are just like drugs. The better the high, the worse the crash. Man, I hate that crash. Sometimes I get pretty depressed when I reach the end of a fantastic book/series. The only good cure is to start reading another one.

    There are those 'punch line' endings, which have to be just right... where the entire point of a story is revealed in the last few minutes. But those usually have an important point to make, and are more about (supposed) enlightenment than entertainment. Sometimes that can be annoying, other times very interesting. The success of a punch line ending, it seems to me, depends on whether or not people agree with you or 'get' your punch line. Both are determined by how well you build up to the punch line - in other words, the main body of text.

    Then there are those endings where everything is wrapped up in a perfect, pretty little package complete with a red silk ribbon, and $20 paper. I hate that. It's obvious that the author is trying too hard to please consumers. As a result all semblance of reality is stripped away, draining a quality piece of life and meaning and reducing it to just another one of . . . those.

    There are quite a few ways to mess up the ending to a good book. I think 95% of them come from trying too hard. I say, if you have a great story to tell and your book is a good read up to that point, then the end is fine however it naturally unfolds. I hate unnatural/artificial endings. As long as it isn't forced, it's probably fine. Not everyone has to love it. Just try not to make people hate it.:cool:
     

Share This Page