“Have you thought of an ending?”
“Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant.”
“Oh, that won’t do! Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?”
“It will do well, if it ever came to that.”
“Ah! And where will they live? That’s what I often wonder.”
As I near the final pages of my first draft, I have been wrestling with the issue of endings. I often feel like I view my ideas for an ending with the personas of the three little pigs; this one is too happy, this one too sad, this one too cliché. None are just right. I know what my ending should not be, but I lack the knowledge of what it should be. Two-hundred plus pages into my novel, I wished I knew exactly how the story would end.
I realize that in my fear of writing something so important, the ending to my first novel, I reverted back to doing what I do best, planning and focusing on plot. It wasn’t working because I had been using an entirely different style for writing the rest of the novel. I had to put my faith back in the characters and the world that I have spent the last half of the year building, brick by brick.
Inspiration came from an unexpected place. I recently had the opportunity to see The Moth at the Rex Theatre. The Moth is an NPR sponsored event of slam stories. I had a wonderful time listening to the participants’ experiences and how they related to the theme of the month “Guts.” Reflecting on the stories I saw there, I have decided on two things that I will use to guide my characters to the end of this particular story.
The first thing I have realized is that the main character must have agency in the ending. She must be the one to cause the events that end the story or it will feel unrealistic. The second thing that I realized was that the main character has to grow internally as a result of the rest of the story. Regardless of the plot in the story, the thing that would make the story satisfying at the end was whether or not the character had changed in order to overcome the situations she experienced
With that in mind, I am ready to charge forward in the creation of an ending to my novel. I hope it will be just right.