Friday, May 6, 2011

SAVOR THE ENDINGS

Tonight's melodic tune:  Don't Wake Me When It's Over courtesy of Lifehouse

The sun is fading, a soft apricot glow blanketing the sky as the day slowly surrenders. The gate to my courtyard whines against the breeze tickling the bamboo bushes on either side of the entrance. We'll settle in the wicker chairs on each side of the gurgling fountain to indulge in the final rays of the sun and the last delicious droplets of a favorite drink.


I didn't lie. I do have a courtyard with a fountain, and this time of year, it's a tiny piece of Tuscan fantasy that serves as a sanctuary for reading. I save my little white "untruths" for shocking stuff like age, weight, and shoe size...things that may dull the shine on my bluff and dazzle routine. You'll just have to take me at my word that I'm old enough to know better, but have earned a sense of "entitlement," consider myself "sturdy" enough to weather gale force winds, and choose my shoes by how comfortable the box they come in, feels on my feet. But I have great hair, almost naturally blond. I've mellowed with age, placing importance on more deserving priorities like choosing my friends based on type match for organ donation. Promise me your kidney and we're friends for life (what's left of it, anyway).


Life holds different meaning for me now I've past twenty-nine. I savor the good things...the last bite of pumpkin pie late Thanksgiving night, the smell of rain early in the morning, pink clouds at dawn, and especially the kaleidoscope of colors a desert sunset paints. I love to watch the sunrise and stay up late to relish the peaceful uninterrupted silence of night, not wanting another day to pass.


The same holds true with a good book. The beginning - the dawn captures our minds, holding us hostage as we read scene by scene, chapter to chapter, becoming one with the characters and living their story, hating that the story will eventually end.


Have you ever been caught up in a story that's held you captive up to the last eighth of an inch of pages, only to find the ending suddenly rushed? Or the final chapter flat compared to the beginning chapters that sucked you out of reality? Of course you have. Nothing's worse than vesting your heart in a series or saga, only to have the last book feel contrived, the characters flat-lined, and the ending lackluster. On more than one occasion I've felt robbed by an author when the ending failed to meet the expectations the beginning promised. Don't be one of those writers.


In the beginning, we create worlds and characters in great detail. The action is meticulously crafted and the insightful moments virtual powerhouses. Then suddenly, word count is too high, chapter numbers read in century increments, and sometimes, the characters get tired and want to stop acting. We quickly gather the remaining scenes from our plot sheets, notepads, and creative "right brain," packaging them into one or two final chapters and pen "The End." If loose ends still dangle, we create an epilogue as the bow wrapping our bulging baby. But is our ending as good as our beginning? As authors, do we deliver what we promise our readers? When the final page is turned, has the hunger to read our story been satiated?


Savor the endings. Close your story painting with all the same colorful details artistically woven in the first chapters. If your readers come away emotionally satisfied when they close your books, they will rush to buy your next one, knowing the journey they are about to embark on through your words, will deliver the promise offered in the first pages. Let your last words hold the same impact as your first.


Maybe we should pitch our endings instead of our beginnings? Don't rush at life or at writing. We might miss a moment that could serve as a cherished memory, or fail to create one for someone else.

Here's to "happy satisfied endings."  Joelene

4 comments:

Sandy Bruney said...

Yeah, I hate when I get the feeling the author suddenly got bored and decided to wrap up in a hurry. My favorite books are the ones where I read more and more slowly as I near the end because ... I don't want it to end! And when I close the book I just sit there for awhile.

Christina Wolfer said...

Well said, Joelene. When it comes to books, the first paragraph or chapter might be your first impression, but its the ending that sticks with you and takes you to the next book the author wrote. No doubt the entire story makes a difference, but if you're disappointed in the end, that's the memory you walk away with.

J. Coleman said...

If a book ends the "right way," it stays with you, waxing almost melancholy, like a favorite memory. If it disappoints, you have nothing good to say when asked, and bite your tongue to a bloody stump when someone else gushes over it.

Ruth said...

You are so right! I recently waited for the last book in a series and was so disappointed.

I agree with Sandy. It's a wonderful when you finish reading and just sit there and take a deep breath. That's how I want to write.

This was a great post Joelene. Thanks, and have a great day.