Tag Archives: Endings

Digging Deeper

I’ve been in a bad mood all week. Let’s just start with this. I hate sad movies.

This piece that has been a week in the making shall finally come forth. It all began one rainy Thursday night with the supposed delight of watching a movie. It began with The Fault in our Stars.

For anyone thinking this will be a commentary on the movie/book it will not, so if that’s what you’re looking for read no further. Rather, I’d like to make a broader commentary. I also warn that I still only have vague understanding of what I’m about to say in spite of deciding to post a blog about it.

I tried to hold out through the movie. I really did. I played on my phone through most of it, kept whispering over and over again “don’t get attached, don’t get attached” and even tried to sneak off to the bathroom when I assumed it would begin to become truly sad (this backfired and my friends paused the movie on my behalf). I giggled at funny pinterest posts rather than truly immersing myself, and I was fine throughout the film. I proudly sent a snapchat to my cousin of my clean face, no tears in sight. But my confidence was shortsighted. For it was after the film that my true feelings became known.

An attempt to go to sleep proved futile as I tossed and turned. I tried distracting myself, but suddenly to my utter surprise, there were tears. Lots and lots of tears.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a pessimist. I’m critical, cynical, sarcastic. I don’t particularly tend to look on the bright side all the time. In fact I often tend to be the gloomy reclusive depressed type, an Eeyore rather than a Winnie-the-Pooh. I am told to smile more. I have people think I’m hateful and mean-spirited in fact simply because I hide behind a somewhat serious and cold exterior. And I think that’s why negative films and books always have such a hard hit on me.

I need a bit of hope in my life. I need some little bit of light peeking through the dark gray clouds. I cling to the bits I have. And when I watch movies like The Fault in our Stars, I have a hard time remembering that there is any good in the world. It makes me question the realities of life around me. And even more it makes me wonder what could possibly be wrong with me that one movie I paid barely any attention to can make me spend an hour curled on the couch crying rather than getting the sleep I so obviously needed.

I’m depressed. I don’t usually admit it readily. But I am. And it’s hard. This past month I’ve struggled to write at all, only surviving thanks to the expectations of the challenge I’m currently participating in. And this week was one of those “I don’t want to be a writer, I’m terrible, I will delete each and every piece of works” type weeks. No worries, my works are safe in my recycling bin for now and will likely be moved at some point. But I still am stuck pondering why my mind works like this, and above all the same questions raised by watching the films. Why do bad things happen? Why is there disease and death and suffering?

I just so happened to be reading King Lear this week as well, which fed rather well into my ponderings. For any who haven’t read it, no worries on spoilers…I’ll just tell you most everyone dies…especially the good characters. The play is rife with suffering. And yet there’s a beauty in it, a questioning just as I’ve been questioning. How is it we live in a world full of such evil? If there is/are (a) higher power(s) then why do they not intervene?

A most poignant line in the play is said by the Duke of Gloucester “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.”

I’m not writing to tell you whether there is or is not a god, or fate, or a higher power, or anything of religious nature. I’m not writing to tell you why there is suffering or what it does. I’m not writing to say there is a way to escape the pain and horrors of this life. Were this a religious blog maybe, but instead I’m forced to approach it from a literary perspective. And that is to appreciate that a man in the Elizabethan era pondered the exact same heavy questions I now am dealing with.

Is there good? Why do people suffer? Why why why?

And that is a beauty of literature, to question these weightier issues in ways that move and touch people. It creates something in us that resonates, even through the ages. I doubt Shakespeare knew he’d do something funny to the heart of a twenty two year old woman in 2014, sitting alone on her couch pondering why, if there was good, she could feel so miserable and depressed.

I have only ever written happy endings, though I’ve been pondering the possibility of writing a sad one recently. Because I think there is something valuable in them, in questioning the difficult elements of the human existence that are universal and unchanging. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll inspire someone as Shakespeare inspired me.

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All’s Well That Ends Well…But is it?

Anyone who looks at my Goodreads on the sidebar can see what I finished reading this weekend. That’s right. Divergent. The series. All three books.

I don’t want to give anything away (no spoilers). So I’ll just try to be unspecific and dance around the idea more than any of the details, but still if you’re worried I might ruin something for you then you might want to stay away from this post.

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My roommate had warned me. I suppose I should have known what was coming. She’d tried to be careful about it, but as she said “let me know your reaction when you get to the end” I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Because that meant the ending had to be worth reacting to.

And that scared me.

And it was. It kind of left me in one of those book hazes, where I just sat there staring at the wall for a while trying to process. I had to give up doing any homework and just watch a movie instead. It was that baffling. I certainly couldn’t just go to bed. The truth is that I found the conclusion of this series riveting. I’d been warned by others that I’d hate it like I hated Mockingjay. But it wasn’t the same kind of feeling in the least. Mockingjay I hated because I lost interest. It became a blur of action that didn’t appeal to me in the least. Allegiant I couldn’t stop reading. And for good reason.

It’s certainly not a high work of literature. The writing is fairly poor. However, I found the storyline interesting and found that unlike some trilogies, I didn’t lose interest by the end. With Mockingjay, or with Inheritance (the Eragon cycle’s last book) I found myself skimming to merely find out what happened at the very end simply to know, not because it really interested me all that much. But Allegiant was different. At least for me.

But I think there was confusion in the fact that I was left with such a shocking finish. It made me confused about my overall feelings for the book. But at the same time questioned my own writing skills with ending books. Made me wonder what realy is best in terms of how one wraps up a novel.

If my question on endings wasn’t enough I came to my first literature class to be greeted with the question on the board “Were you satisfied with the ending?” referring to the book we’d just finished for class Jane Eyre. I found myself saying yes, though some classmates seemed less pleased. Again, no spoilers don’t worry.

But it continues to make me ponder how a writer goes about ending a novel, or even worse a trilogy/series. It’s a challenging business. On the one hand, ending tragically might make it seem more complex and worthy of study (as many books in the cannon are), but at the same time may anger or upset readers. A happy ending can be nice, but also may seem a bit too cliche and, of course, predicable.

The End

My roommate hit the nail on the head in some ways in my opinion. A good ending is worth reacting to. That can be in either a positive or negative manner. But books that I’ve read in the past where it’s just been a skim for the facts aren’t worth it at all. Books like Jane where I put it down feeling thoroughly satisfied, or books like Allegiant that leave me pondering, those are the worthy endings in my mind. And while both are very different, I think they both managed to maintain an element of unpredictability and surprise in how events came together.

But it’s a challenge that any author knows. Loose ends should probably be tied up. Feelings have to be dealt with. Even if going for tragic, authors might like to pull in a small bit of hope (or not depending). As readers and viewers we witness all too often the fault of stories that can’t quite seem to figure out where to end. While I love Lord of the Rings, can we all agree the movie had five different parts that seemed like the end and weren’t?

It’s perhaps the greatest struggle of a writer, the greatest woe of a reader, and the dread we both share in common. Putting characters to rest, saying goodbye to old familiar places, moving on, wrapping up, ensuring that there is no suspicion for further books (because don’t we all hate books that end that seem like they should have sequels or epilogues or something more!). And finally and most importantly figuring out what exactly the book is going to leave us with.

Feedback time: What do you like in your endings? Are you a happy ending book lover? Do you prefer books that make you think? Is there an ideal combination of both? What other elements do you think are important? List a few favorite book endings (add spoiler warnings if need be!). I always am glad to hear from my readers.

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The Problem of Endings

This summer I had a goal to finish another novel. And so far I’m right on track and wrote out my epilogue today! However, as I wrote out my last part of my book today I realized how terrible I am at writing last lines. Sure, I can finish up a chapter, or write a conclusion to an essay, but when it comes to novel endings they just end up being a mess.

I’ve only finished four novels, so I haven’t had a lot of practice. But regardless every time I get to the end I sit there and ponder what on earth I need to write to make a proper ending. Half the time it ends up as something awful and cheesy. Hey I write fantasy romance most of the time! Therefore cheesiness is my specialty! The other half is just a line that seems inconclusive and therefore I’m not sure the audience will really feel the book is finished. As a reader I always hate when I turn a page in a book expecting more and then finding it’s the end.

So what makes a perfect last line? In my effort to try to figure out I thought I’d put a few last lines from some books I own to see some examples. So if you haven’t read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Jane Eyre, Lord of the Rings, Little Women, The Last BattleGrapes of Wrath, and Oliver Twist, don’t read this upcoming section. So here are seven last lines from well known books!

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1. “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

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2. “Amen! Even so come, Lord Jesus.”Jane Eyre

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3. “He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.” Lord of the Rings The Return of the King

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4.”Whether it ever rises again depends upon the reception given to the first act of the domestic drama, entitled ‘Little Women’.” Little Women

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5. “All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” The Last Battle

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6. “She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and she smiled mysteriously.” The Grapes of Wrath

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7. “I believe it none the less because that nook is in a Church, and she was weak and erring.” Oliver Twist

So, in examining these one thing seems clear. There is no right way to write an ending. These are all vastly different. There are biblical quotes, last actions, last words, strange sentences that seem to have little to do with the story itself, or simply a reassurance that all evil is finally gone and the adventure is over.

So I guess in worrying so much about endings I forgot that just like anything else about writing, it’s about personal style. You fit an ending to your book, to how you want it to be. And if you like it, let it be.

Does anybody else have trouble with last lines as a writer? And if you have a favorite last line or something else you’d like to share please do! Maybe I’ll do another blog in the next month about some of the best endings to books. So, contribute and maybe I’ll give you a shout out!

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