Thursday, May 19, 2011


So I've finished my YA science fiction novel. Almost. Sort of. The climax, rewritten, is now more dramatic (but stops short of melodrama, I fervently hope). There is a title (FLASH POINT) that works on several story levels. I still love my characters. But -- the last page isn't right.

Endings are important. The end of anything is the power position. This is true on the sentence level, which is why "I saw the blood on the floor when I woke up in the morning" is much weaker than "When I woke up in the morning, the floor swam in blood."

It's true on the paragraph level, where you don't bury the high point in the middle of a narrative paragraph but save it for the end.

It's true on the scene-or-chapter level, which should end with, if not an actual cliff hanger, at least an intensifying of the situation to keep the reader going to the next scene.

And it's completely true at the ending of a book. Sometimes a deliberate understatement works, as in the last paragraph of Somerset Maugham's OF HUMAN BONDAGE. But I haven't got a deliberate understatement and I haven't got much of anything else, either. Fatal to let an ending peter out, turn sentimental, or become preachy. Back to the keyboard.


cd said...

Worst closing sentence ever: the end of Dune.

Lou said...

I can't wait to read this! I'll leap ahead to the ending just to see how you handled it.

Don't have him wake up in bed next to his wife and recount to her how he had dreamed of owning an Inn in Vermont.

Please, don't.

Bryan H. Bell said...

It's been pretty interesting following along as you finish up your latest novel. Thanks for sharing the process.

KevinW said...

Remember your Monty Python...when the story hits a wall, just have a giant foot come down from the sky and squish everything.