The End is Nigh: Why Writers Can’t Talk about Endings

There’s a few things which annoy me about (fiction) Writers’ Groups, Podcast’s (interviews), and communities. One such annoyance is Writers’ inability to talk about their endings.

We’ve all seen it. The writer talks about their beginning, their characters, and process techniques. And we’re all ears gathering as many useful tips and enjoying their journey of writing and discovering the story. Then, inevitably, the mention of an ending happens, and suddenly the conversation tails off because they ‘don’t want to spoil the ending’.

And we’re left hanging; mysteriously bewildered, by this mythical beast called an ending which never gets discussed.

Sure, you can read all about endings in any craft book, but the examples will be limited to an old story the author wrote once, or some classical text which is assumed you’ve read and know about. Or worse (and another pet peeve of mine) referring to a film instead of a book.

Have you noticed writers never talk about endings?

I certainly have. It just sort of, dangles there, like a fart. In our minds, but no-one has the strength to mention it. Or worse, maybe you don’t think about it at all? You just accept that there is one, and it’s amazing, and you just can’t learn how it happened because you’re not reading their book.

We’re made to feel guilty, perhaps? Ashamed that we’re not financially supporting the author so we don’t deserve to find out the magic of a great ending?

Ergh.

Wouldn’t we all benefit by discussing the very thing needed to round off tens of thousands of words and days/weeks of highly anticipated reading? The ending is crucial. It’s the very ‘point’ of a story. Yet name me an interview source, podcast, forum, or group which actively discusses endings, please!

So, after being annoyed for some time (years) about writers’ failure to discuss their endings, I think I’ve figured it out.

Most writers believe other writers are their Market. They might be. They could be. But they’re not. These people are actually an Audience for the interview not a Market of buyers. And if they’re listening, reading, watching a writer talk about the craft and process of writing, the chances are they aren’t wrapped up in the ‘what’ of the story: they’re wrapped up in the ‘how’ the story got made.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never rushed out and bought a fiction title off the back of an interview about creative writing craft.

I have been intrigued, made notes, and checked out a copy of a book online. And I’ve definitely bought non-fiction books, but I can’t recall ever buying a fiction book. Maybe it’s just me?

I really do believe that us writers need to discuss endings much much more than we do. We will have to spoil our endings, and we should get used to it. Maybe we could/would/should risk losing a few (fictional) purchases, if it means we learn more about what makes a great ending and how to write towards one.

It’s crucial we start the discussion about endings today: asking more writers how they write their endings, and why we don’t talk more about our endings. It’s necessary piece of the writing puzzle which is absent from the craft conversation today.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you censor your endings from all ears? I’d love to know what other writers feel about this topic. Surely, I can’t be the only one?

Mark

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

 

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