Wednesday, 30 January 2013

How To End A Story

I’ve been having some trouble ending The Stories (as usual).  In the old days, I knew how a story ended before I started writing it, and though it might wind all over the place on its way, it generally ended up where it was supposed to.  But in recent years I’ve had less clear ideas of what I want, or I edit a story so much that the old ending doesn’t make sense any more, or I start a tale that’s more nebulous idea than planned structure and I end up shilly-shallying around The Conclusion with only vague feelings and nothing concrete to put in place.

The Usual Recourse is to corner The Slayer and make him listen to The Ideas.

But he’s a busy guy, so sometimes I need another friendly ear to babble at.  And The Housemate has previously expressed vexation that I don’t share The Ideas with him.

So recently I DID turn to him for advice.  Just how should one end a story?

The Housemate’s advice was not hugely helpful.

And there seemed to be a pattern.

I think he’s mocking me.


  1. For the third one: Read Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls. It's absolutely brilliant in the way it makes a fantastical character walk the tightrope between being imaginary and real. (The movie goes all the way down the imaginary road, but the book handles it more elegantly)

    That first one... it sounds suspiciously like character growth and... REDEMPTION!!!!!! NOOOOO!!!!! No one can be redeemed! Joking aside, one way to tackle it might be a conversation with a loved one / trusted person, who is appalled at the actions. I am reminded of the animated movie Persepolis, and the scene where the protagonist tells her mother about how she escaped from the morality police by deflecting their attention and getting someone else in trouble. I'm also reminded of something a friend told me about a movie I haven't seen - the documentary "The Act of Killing", which apparently features a scene wherein a mass murderer re-enacts his killings, but from the other side, and realises what he has done...

    As for the second one, I do remember reading a story where an unforgivable betrayal was... accommodated. I think it was Porcelain 2: Bone China. The person whose trust was violated decides to rebuild a relationship. I think she said something like "Things are not the same, but..." and somehow indicated that she was willing to build something new. It's a very touching thing, for characters to decide, consciously, to work on rebuilding after there has been a collapse. A bit like the ending of Mrs Doubtfire, where Sally Field comes to an accommodation with Robin Williams, despite all the hurt she has felt.

    Also, have you thought about ending all these stories with "and then they woke up, and it was all just a dream"?

    1. Of course. It was all a dream. Followed by dot dot dot OR WAS IT?

    2. Thanks for the recommendations. If it makes you feel better, the first one is referring to suicide so not really a redemption story. As for the second one, I think I decided that she would not forgive him in a rewrite - but then I swapped the protagonists anyway.


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