1. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    Should All Stories Have An End?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Stammis, Jan 15, 2017.

    Should all stories have a beginning, middle, and an end? I've been pondering this question as I write this very short story. It's about the last sentence in the text below. Does it add to the story? Do I need to give the reader a hint that they will not return to their land again? I think it sounds better without the last sentence myself, but I'm not sure whether to leave it in or not:

    So this is the end. Once a thriving grassland now turned to savannah. Nobody imagined the transformation would've occurred this quickly, just a few weeks after the traveller’s curse... Damn foreigners.

    They have no respect for the words of the mystic, and now look what their carelessness have wrought on us! My dad tells me we can weather this misfortune; that there are plenty of examples in the holy texts about the sand unleashing its wrath, only to spare the faithful in the end.

    We are a pious family, after all, he tells us. Only, as I stand to gaze over the now dead landscape, I cannot help but feel despair upon my view. The sand creeping menacingly closer, suffocating the grass beneath my feet.

    I fear this will be the last I'll see of my homeland, habitable and lush.

    --- Or maybe this works better? ----

    We are a pious family, after all, he tells us. Only, as I stood gazing over the now dead landscape, I could not help but feel despair upon my view. The sand creeping menacingly closer, suffocating the grass beneath my feet.

    It would be the last time I set foot on this land, habitable and lush.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017
  2. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    Yes, all stories should have a beginning, a middle and and end. It's almost the very definition of a story. But if you take away the last line of your "ending" you won't not have an end. Your end will just be slightly different. Do you see what I mean?

    I actually quite like your last line, though.
     
  3. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    I see. I'm asking because I'm not sure if my text has any of those elements to begin with (except a middle), yet it works. For me anyway.
     
  4. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    I can't say for certain without seeing it, of course, but if something happens in your story, then it probably does have a beginning, a middle and an end. In fact, no matter what it does, it should technically have a beginning and an end through the laws of science. I start reading; I stop reading. When something happens, that's the middle. :)

    (And I still prefer the first example of your last line, although both are great.)
     
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  5. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    I think the only appropriate situation where an ending is not necessary is for never ending series.
    Other than that it might be a good idea to have one. Some people like closure, even if it is on a
    cliffhanger. Without an ending it would be like cutting the story off prematurely, which would
    feel weird. Then again you never know until you hear back from your readers.
     
  6. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Might want to check your spelling, bro.

    Savannah:
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks for that, I probably would have made the same mistake.
     
  8. Anna100

    Anna100 Active Member

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    I don't know if you meant that it was once a grassland but now it was a savanna? If so, I believe grassland and savanna are the same thing (savannas have grass). Maybe make a more stark difference? Anyhow, regarding your question, I don't think you need to say that it would be the last time he set foot in his homeland. But that's up to you. :)
     
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  9. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    If you mean "does the ending have to be clearly defined", or "do the characters get to live happily ever after", I'd say no. I recently read a book called The Silence, by Tim Lebbon. I won't spoil the end, but it's not really clear-cut - they survived, but it's left to the readers' imagination what will happen. It works, though.

    I agree with Seren: use the first example. Judging from what you've got, it sounds like a good place to end the story. Sometimes the MCs will survive and persevere, but things won't always turn up roses at the end, and that's fine too.
     
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  10. Trina Lynne

    Trina Lynne New Member

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    It is necessary to have a beginning, middle, and end to formulate a story. However, it all depends on what you consider to the "end". Just because a story is over doesn't mean that everything is completely resolved. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't.

    I like both the final lines that you chose. In particularly, I like the first of the two. However, even if you left them out, the story still comes to a close.
     
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  11. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    A story has to have an end in the sense that, by the time its words cease, you need to fulfill all the promises you made to the reader at the beginning. If the story has promised weirdness and/or uncertainty, a weird and/or uncertain ending is fine.
     
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  12. T.S. Wieland

    T.S. Wieland New Member

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    Yes, you should always bring your audience full circle in some way so they feel satisfied. You can leave things on a cliff hanger open for more, but the current story should end and lead to the next. My current book ends with bringing the characters back to face the climax, followed by a cliff hanger at the end, but I always make sure the current book has a beginning, middle, and ending.
    Now, you can stretch the middle out, but there is a point in which you'll just lose your reader due to boredom if your not careful.
     
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  13. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    This. The central conflict should have a resolution--some kind of resolution, however vague or weird or sad or happy or whatever. It doesn't need to "end," per se, but there needs to be a sense that reading all that text amounted to something--a payoff of some kind.

    That said, I'm sure there are cases where that guideline wasn't followed and the result was successful--as is the case with everything--but I'd argue doing that would take a lot of skill and understanding of how to set an audience's expectations and cleverly avert them, rather than just feeling like a cop-out.
     
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  14. Francis de Aguilar

    Francis de Aguilar Contributor Contributor

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    You could always change the last sentence a bit.

     
  15. Dnaiel

    Dnaiel Senior Member

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    To answer your question
     

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