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Thread: The Climactic Ending

  1. #51
    Board Moderator J.T. Chris's Avatar
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    I am terrible with endings. Nothing ever seems to wrap-up neatly for me.
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  2. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by J.T. Chris View Post
    I am terrible with endings. Nothing ever seems to wrap-up neatly for me.
    Why? What do you mean? Example?

    I mean, most writers know exactly what issues they have created. So they wrap them up. Or decide it's okay not to.

    I suggested that the ending use elements from the story. If an author, trying to make success seem impossible, actually makes it impossible, then the author has to invent some new element. I suggested in this thread, and everyone kind of agrees, that isn't a satisfying ending.

    But I'm just guessing at what you mean.
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  3. #53
    This is weird. I came here this morning because I have a slight dilemma on how to end my current project, and here comes this discussion about climactic endings already in place. Wow!

    Anyway, in the beginning of the book, Declan Ahern moves into an apartment building on the north side of Chicago, where Maggie O'Connor has lived for most of her adult life (both are seniors). They meet, with Declan giving Maggie a fake name, become very close, and spend a lot of time together. He never tells Maggie where he is from, or why he is in Chicago.

    One night, as Maggie makes her way to Declan's apartment with her favorite chicken casserole for dinner, she finds that Declan has vanished, leaving no word as to where he has gone. There are vegetables boiling away on his stove, so it was a hasty retreat. Maggie is devastated and spends a lot of time over the next couple of years trying to find Declan, and what happened to him. During that time, she learns his real name and that he came from Kilkenny, Ireland. By then she tries to convince herself that she no longer cares about him, but that is far from the truth.

    In the second half of the book, Maggie finds out that she was adopted as a child, and her biological father just happens to live in the same town that Declan is from, Kilkenny. She travels to Ireland and finds her bio dad gravely ill and in a coma. As it turns out, Declan's family is close friends to Maggie's real father, and that's how I've set the stage for them to be reunited.

    Here's my dilemma: The goal of the book has always been to bring Maggie and Declan back together, and I'm eager to hear opinions on which would work better. Maggie has traveled to Ireland with her aunt who had written to Declan's father that they were coming to see Maggie's father, in the hospital. So Declan reads the letters and knows that Maggie's aunt (someone he knows from his time in Chicago) is coming to Kilkenny, but doesn't know that Maggie is with her.

    Should Maggie see Declan coming down the hall first? Or would it be more effective if Declan simply shows up in the hospital room, taking Maggie by surprise?

    I know this description is bare-bones; obviously, there is much more to the story, but just wanted some thoughts on a proper ending, if you can. Thanks so much!
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  4. #54
    Declan disappears in the middle of making vegetables. That's a mystery to drive your reader through the rest of the book, but you don't mention how that is resolved. So I think I am missing information. Being general . . .

    The standard is to have a lot of close calls. Do you do that?

    It would be nice if she found him through persistence, or being clever, or having some special connection. If you make it just a coincidence, that doesn't give your ending a lot of meaning.

    In The Opposite of Everyone, the MC finally finds her half sister, and the ending scene is them meeting. Will her half-sister like her? Yes is the answer, but the interesting thing is how/why. And the author started setting that up at page 1. In other words, if you can think of a really interesting ending, you can them reverse-engineer your book for that ending to make sense.

    For example, if they accidentally meet, it's awkward, and they are going to separate, she can reverse that with something from the first half of your book. If the relationship originally failed because she was shy, or prejudiced, she could have learned to get beyond that. There are lots of possibilities. If he left something more solid than vegetables, she could return it.
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  5. #55
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    For me it was the ending that helped start my current WIP. It was engaging, climactic, and it helped keep me grounded to the setting. Granted this ending was to a series instead of the first book but that one eventually came to me. Now the hard part begins, getting from start to finish. Currently on chapter 9 of the outline and so far everything is going according to plan.
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

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  6. #56
    Board Moderator J.T. Chris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Why? What do you mean? Example?

    I mean, most writers know exactly what issues they have created. So they wrap them up. Or decide it's okay not to.

    I suggested that the ending use elements from the story. If an author, trying to make success seem impossible, actually makes it impossible, then the author has to invent some new element. I suggested in this thread, and everyone kind of agrees, that isn't a satisfying ending.

    But I'm just guessing at what you mean.
    What I mean is that I have no idea how to end a story so I usually settle on a quick resolution left open for interpretation.
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  7. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by SueC View Post
    Should Maggie see Declan coming down the hall first? Or would it be more effective if Declan simply shows up in the hospital room, taking Maggie by surprise?

    I know this description is bare-bones; obviously, there is much more to the story, but just wanted some thoughts on a proper ending, if you can. Thanks so much!
    I think seeing him coming might give you more creative liberty, since she has the option to run to him, or walk away, or play it cool or whatever.

    For me, the element that makes this scene work the best is if the writer uses a paragraph or two giving exposition from Maggie's perspective on how she feels about him and what she sees, before the action of the scene starts. I feel like a sudden arrival, even if it IS sudden to the main character, will simply jar the reader if it passes too fast on the page. I personally need time to orient myself to it.

    That said, if she looks up and he's standing there, the exposition is delivered like time froze. On the other hand, if she sees him coming, the exposition and description is delivered as if she is thinking about what she's going to do, making it feel more natural. By giving her some space when they meet, the author has some space to help orient the reader to what's happening.

    That's not to say that a surprise appearance is bad-wrong-fun. I like surprise appearances. I just think that seeing him come will feel better to write and read. After all, it is still a sudden appearance, just down the hall instead of in the door.

  8. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCalliganWrites View Post
    I think seeing him coming might give you more creative liberty, since she has the option to run to him, or walk away, or play it cool or whatever.

    For me, the element that makes this scene work the best is if the writer uses a paragraph or two giving exposition from Maggie's perspective on how she feels about him and what she sees, before the action of the scene starts. I feel like a sudden arrival, even if it IS sudden to the main character, will simply jar the reader if it passes too fast on the page. I personally need time to orient myself to it.

    That said, if she looks up and he's standing there, the exposition is delivered like time froze. On the other hand, if she sees him coming, the exposition and description is delivered as if she is thinking about what she's going to do, making it feel more natural. By giving her some space when they meet, the author has some space to help orient the reader to what's happening.

    That's not to say that a surprise appearance is bad-wrong-fun. I like surprise appearances. I just think that seeing him come will feel better to write and read. After all, it is still a sudden appearance, just down the hall instead of in the door.
    Thanks John! Really helpful, and I'm still working on it. I don't know if you have ever seen the movie, "Sleepless in Seattle," but that ending was just wrong to me. It was as dull ditchwater, and I am working hard to avoid any reader feeling that way when my two lovers meet again. Today is the day - I'm going to dive in and get them moving again. I'll let you know how it works, and thanks again so much for your input.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  9. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by Sustrai View Post
    I'm put in mind of Agatha Christie. What's more climactic than revealing the murderer after a long investigation? "Who dunnit? HE dunnit!" I'm daunted by the prospect of writing murder mysteries. It's almost as though they must be written backward. However, it seems the climax must be written before the rest of the story. The story, of course, leads to the climax. It seems ill-conceived to begin writing a story when one has no idea where it is supposed to lead. Of course, Luke's bombing of the Death Star is one sort of climax. Miss Marple calmly pointing to the butler and saying, "He did it," is quite another. Yet, climaxes they both are. After all, that's how the reader knows the story has reached its destination; its object - the climax.
    Sustrai,
    Thank you so much for your insight. I love Agatha Christie, and that is the type of ending I want, something that comes as a slight surprise, but somehow you knew it would happen. I'm going to try and delay the reunion as long as I can, but not too long. I think the readers would have been hopeful though the book that these two would get back together, but the odds at times seemed long. I want it to be meaningful, even tearful! LOL. You only joined WF this month, Sustrai, but in the past I have revealed that making people cry over my stories is my goal! Ha - we'll see and I'll keep you posted.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  10. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Declan disappears in the middle of making vegetables. That's a mystery to drive your reader through the rest of the book, but you don't mention how that is resolved. So I think I am missing information. Being general . . .

    The standard is to have a lot of close calls. Do you do that?

    It would be nice if she found him through persistence, or being clever, or having some special connection. If you make it just a coincidence, that doesn't give your ending a lot of meaning.

    In The Opposite of Everyone, the MC finally finds her half sister, and the ending scene is them meeting. Will her half-sister like her? Yes is the answer, but the interesting thing is how/why. And the author started setting that up at page 1. In other words, if you can think of a really interesting ending, you can them reverse-engineer your book for that ending to make sense.

    For example, if they accidentally meet, it's awkward, and they are going to separate, she can reverse that with something from the first half of your book. If the relationship originally failed because she was shy, or prejudiced, she could have learned to get beyond that. There are lots of possibilities. If he left something more solid than vegetables, she could return it.
    Thanks, Emma! Yes, you're missing a lot of information here. My character Maggie has spent a ton of time trying to find Declan, or at least who he really is and where he has gone. Initially, Declan was doing a favor for his friend, Manny, who wanted to leave the country and go to Poland on the sly. This fellow asks Declan to move into his apartment in Maggie's building and live there while he is gone. He asks Declan to introduce himself to others as "Manny," so no one knows that he has actually left town. On the night that Maggie is going up for dinner with Declan, before she arrives, the real Manny is brought home from his trip, dead from a heart attack. Manny is placed on Declan's bed, the veggies are forgotten, and Declan leaves via the back stairs. This was all part of a plan. Manny was not a well man, and knew that his days were numbered, but the trip to Poland was personal and important to him. So from the minute of finding a dead body in Declan's apartment, Maggie knows it is not her Manny! She has no luck in convincing the police that the man on the bed in not the person she knew, especially when dna comes back identifying him as Manny. At Christmas, two years later, Declan sends Maggie a Christmas card with nothing more than her apartment key inside and signed "Manny." She's even more convinced that he is alive and well and living in Ireland, but at the time has no resources to find him.

    Well, I won't go on, and as you can imagine, there is a lot more to the story, but I so appreciate you comments. I am into it today and hopefully will be inspired enough to get the job done. And yes, there will be a lot of "close calls." I will give you a sample for critique! Thanks again.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


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