Confession time- Sometimes I have premises and plans for stories, but NEVER know how they end, until I get to the “end”.
The other night, while lying in bed, a story was keeping me awake. I was at home that night and hadn’t set the security alarm, and it woke me out of the “drift off stage” of comfort. I have an app on my phone to set our alarm from anywhere, so I pushed the “STAY” button and rested my head back on my pillow. Then the story came:
What would happen if someone broke in? I typically only wear underwear to bed, so I would feel “naked”. Then I decided my best course of action would be to hide beneath my bed. The story, “The Naked Entrapment of Hilary Lipton,” was formed, literally overnight. I was so excited to get it out.
But, I have a HUGE problem with it. I am unsure of the ending. I need an alternate ending. I wrote all about what her thought process was, while being trapped under her bed, but when I got to the end, I admit I choked. It feels abrupt and empty to me, but it is also a very long story. It seemed to warrant a quick ending.
What do you do if you aren’t pleased with an ending? Post “alternate endings”? Or do you just leave it and let it drive you mad? Or, do you start over again and plan for a new ending?
Typically, I can sense when a story or blog is complete. I can usually find that one last sentence, that makes me feel like I have finished getting my information or story “out” and wrap it up with one final word. This one, however, has been driving me nuts.
Do we want the protagonist or the antagonist to win? Does it make sense to end it with an unknown? Is there some kind of special formula or expectation for the way a story ends? Is the ending worth the time it takes to read? Do I add on to it? Or create a sequel?
I have seen so many movies, and read as many books, that end with me asking “Really? That’s how it ends?” and I have felt ripped off. I feel like that is what this story has done to me, and probably whoever has read it. I don’t want to rip anyone off and have an ending that makes you question whether it was worth the time to read.
So, now what?
I guess I leave it the way it is and see if I receive feedback on it. I am pleased with the way it flows, how the story line goes, and how it described her thoughts while trapped. But, that ENDING though. Maybe something will crawl into my head tonight when I go to bed, to help me come up with something less abrupt.
As writers, I feel like we all have our strengths and challenges. My strength is the foundations of stories, and emotional descriptions. Apparently, my challenge is endings and feeling content that the way it is written will not leave the reader feeling empty.
Am I the only one with this process? Do you start with the foundation and end it as you write, or do you already KNOW the ending before the story is written? I would really like to hear other writer’s processes and how they know how their stories end? This is actually the first time that this has happened to me. I literally got to the point where I realized SOMETHING had to be the ending, and sat there. I sat and sat and stared at my computer screen searching for the words to end the story. Perhaps I should have kept the story flowing, or created another segue for her, prior to ending it? I don’t know. I just know that I am unnerved by the words I have chosen and even now, I cannot come up with an alternate ending. Maybe it ended just the way it was supposed to.
For now, I will move forward and put the story behind me. I can take some sort of solace in feeling like some stories I have written have had success, and some, not so much.
Either way, outside of regretting the ending, I liked the premise and the details. It’s just that damn ending.
Here is the story :