Theme Week: An Ending Is Just A New Beginning

I've thought about this in real life before, but it's never really translated to reading or writing. But the whole mantra of when one thing ends, another begins is really true in storytelling.

I'm a firm believer that stories don't need to be completely closed to be satisfying. Yes, I need the drama to be wrapped up and the conflict resolved, but I don't need to know what happens five years after the book ends or anything like that. (Jeff touched on this earlier this week. I loved THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE for exactly this reason. I could imagine what else happened based on the superb storytelling Jeff had already done.)

I adored everything about Harry Potter except the fact that we know exactly what happens 19 years later. I wanted to imagine what I wanted for Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione and their kids/lives.

I think the best storytellers weave the elements of the story so tightly with the elements of character that the reader can formulate that perfect ending in their head after the main conflict is resolved.

Those are the kind of endings that create new beginnings for me. Those are the kind of endings I enjoy reading. Those are the kind of endings I try to write.

What do you think? Do you like the author to tell you exactly what happens, or would you rather construct that for yourself?


Laura Pauling said...

I loved the epilogue. And from what I heard she did it so no one could add anything later on. Don't know if that's true or not!

But I don't mind an open ending at all.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I'd like the author to weave a story such that I can draw my own conclusions about where the characters could end up - and those ends are good. What I hate is when you get to the end and it's sort of like "That's it?" and you can't imagine how it could end well.

LM Preston said...

I do agree with you on HP. I didn't want to know what happened when they grew up. That gave me too much closer.

Jenna Wallace said...

I agree... I always imagined that Harry would become the Defense against the Dark Arts professor and live at Hogwarts forever. If well written, a book helps us imagine our own conclusions.

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent comments, guys. Laura, I did not know that--it's an interesting thought as to why it ended that way.

Jenna, I love the idea of Harry being the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher!!

Mandy P.S. said...

I heard the same thing as Laura. I heard the whole point of the Harry Potter epilogue was the idea that Harry's scar never hurt again, thus putting an end to anyone trying to argue that Voldemort wasn't dead and would come back. Harry's scar doesn't hurt means Voldemort is dead and never coming back.

As for endings, as long as they resolve, I'm cool. You can't leave too many loose threads hanging though, or else the reader doesn't have a good resolution (unless those loose ends are hanging because book 2 is coming).

Wheel of Time is going to be ending in 2012 (which might be why 2012 is predicted to be when the world ends--what is the world without WoT? lol) and I know there are going to be a ton of loose threads. Robert Jordan said it, and Brandon Sanderson says it. But it has to resolve. I don't need to know the future of the Aiel people, but I do need to know who wins the Tarmon Gaidan and I need at least an idea of who is going to rule the world once its over.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I want a hint at the direction endings go but I also like the chance to think through what could have happened. I don't like things wrapped up too neatly - doesn't leave room for my imagination.

Catherine Stine said...

Yes, I tend to agree with your felling. Just re-read Animal Farm, and Orwell does a great job of this. He doesn't come out and say that the animals will ever rebel but he gets them up to the window where they overhear scathing evidence. Thus, it can remain a cautionary tale, still with a hint of possible future victory.