>> Saturday, June 5, 2010
I've been reading several novels* by Hilari Bell recently, along with a bunch of other books, and I've been thinking a lot about endings in general. (What works, what doesn't, what an ending needs to accomplish, etc.)
Ms. Bell’s endings are so perfect. I can see how they would not appeal to everyone—they are short, to the point, and give you just enough wrap-up and resolution to satisfy and properly end the story, and that’s it. No long epilogues or wrap-up chapters where we see the aftermath (it’s all implied, and I like that better) and people gab and sit around discussing what happened.
Nah. It’s snap, bang, we’re done. But in a GOOD way—not too abrupt, and there is most definitely a conclusion, with a lot of what will need to be done left implied and open.
I get cranky when a story goes on and on and there is too much wrap-up and “ending credits” stuff. (When the story is done, please STOP WRITING.) I don’t actually want every last detail wrapped up and tied in a neat bow. Major threads, yes. Character arcs should finish. It should be a solid, satisfactory, sufficient ending.
If the conflict is resolved, threads wrapped up, character arcs finished (for this story), then I want the book to end. I don’t want to slog through 30 or 50 or more pages of aftermath and wrap-up and characters fiddling around with things, etc.
Endings are tricky beasts—flub it and it reflects on the whole book. Too long and it makes Merc a cranky reader. Too short and abrupt and I wonder what the hell you’re thinking, author, and why are there not a few more pages at the end.
But get is just right and there is that warm, happy glow, and a satisfied reader is likely to go read and buy more books (I am, anyway). It’s like an addiction. You give me a good ending that works just right (and I can forgive a lot if you nail the ending) and I’ll go look for more.
What about you? What makes an ending “perfect” for you? What does an ending need to pull off/include to make you happy?
Songs of Power
The Wizard's Test
I have a lovely stack of Bell novels on my TBR pile! *is a fan*
EDIT: I found an excellent article Hilari Bell wrote about novel endings (climaxes) as well.