I’ve heard now and then that the writer just knows when a story is finished, when the end has been reached. Some say to write toward an ending, an image or specific denouement, but I always like to let my work grow a bit more organically, working themselves out to the point where an ending seems to have grown out of the ether without my tampering. I’m not big on working with a specific ending in mind. It feels forced, sometimes, and can stifle the characters and their growth. If I’m not writing toward an ending, my characters can grow naturally, without being forced to adhere to plot.

On the most recent two stories that I’ve finished, I’ve worked this way, allowing an ending to simply appear out of nowhere, to be synthesized out of the natural occurrence of events in the story.  The problem comes in when I reach that “ending” and wonder if I’m really there or if there’s more work ahead. The ending is supposed to have that feeling of finality, but should also open up thought about the piece. I prefer open-ended denouements, leaving the story open to interpretation. When I read, I don’t want everything to wrapped up in a nice package. Some things ought to be answered, of course, or the story doesn’t work. Does the character change in any way or make a kind of life-altering decision? Does the ending make sense?

How do you know when a story is finished, as a writer?

NOTE: I am working as a regular contributor over at The Nervous Breakdown. Look for a post soon!

Rejection notice: Third Coast


2 thoughts on “Endings

  1. Hey, Justin. Read your blogs. Saw you are looking for something to read. Also, you did a piece about endings. Well, have I got a book for you!!! The title is “Mind Bomb” by Luke Mitchell…his first book. You can’t have my copy, sorry, but I’m sure you can find it at your friendly local library or in that book store of yours…
    If you ever get around to reading it, let me know what you think. Do not read the ending first…it will spoil it for you, of course!
    Anyway, keep writing…you do have a knack!
    Aunt Carolyn

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