Thursday, May 24, 2012

The ABC's of Middle Grade: Z is for Zee End

I know, not original, Zee End. But B was for Beginning, M was for Middle, so Z had to be for Zee End. I mean, I can't leave this alphabet series without talking about the end of a book when I've talked about everything in between!

So here we are, the end of a book. It's so final. It's what the reader remembers most clearly. It's so important. It's so big. And as a writer, it can be frightening to write because we don't want the wrong ending, a wimpy ending, or *shudders* a reader saying, "I didn't like that ending." We want punch and verve and even a reader fist pump, saying, "Yes! That was a brilliant ending!"

And then there are those last lines of a book, the VERY end. Those lines can't flop. They can't flip. They can't even move. They must be steadfast. Resolute. And absolutely right.

Whew. There's a little bit of pressure on the end of a book. As a reader, which endings of books have you enjoyed most and why? If you write, do you find endings hard or do they flow from you in a no-nonsense manner because of how the story poured out? I would love your take on those two questions.

With that, I'm over and out on my middle grade alphabet march. The purpose of this march was to prepare one of my manuscripts for querying, and next Thursday I'll let you know how that march marches.


  1. Awesome Barbara that you made it through the alphabet. And good for you querying. So exciting.

  2. The end can make or break a book. I've read a few books I loved but the end was too forced/cliched/rushed and it ruined the whole book. Yea, that can be a lot of pressure.

  3. +JMJ+

    Z is a hard letter, but I love what you've done with it! =)

    I agree that the ending will make or break a novel. It almost doesn't matter how great the beginning and middle are, if the ending fails to satisfy.

    This is why I'm not too crazy about the cliffhanger ending in a series. But there are cliffhangers and there are cliffhangers. Some novels I could mention (but won't--LOL!) have made me wonder whether they ended with so many things unresolved because the author herself had no idea what to do next . . . and more often than not, the next book felt randomly tacked on rather than organic. But there have been others that made me believe the author was in complete control the whole time, playing me like a harp. A happy harp. =P

  4. I love a good twisty ending. I'll give you credit for a twist because I didn't see ZEE END coming. ;)

    1. Thanks. :-) I think I saw so many Zee Ends on the A-Z April blogging challenge that my heart kinda kerplunked because I knew it was what I already had planned way-back-when when I started this alphabet march.

  5. The endings I've been writing need improving. I've done short stories and one novel that I'm contemplating revising for a third time. As far as what kind of endings I like? Just as long as they are not cheesy, I like them. Sad, happy, hanging, it's all good. Nice to meet you! Just wandered over from another blog.

  6. It's so true. The last lines need to be super strong. Good luck with querying and prep for that. :)

  7. Wow, I'm going to miss the alphabet march! I can't think of any great endings off the top of my head, but I agree, if the ending doesn't jive with the rest of the book, it can ruin the entire experience.

  8. I actually find that those last few sentences of the ending are right there when I need them, and they seldom get changed in revisions. Now if only that were true of all the rest.

  9. As a reader, I love any kind of end, as long as it feels natural to the story. Endings that feel forced always ruin a book for me, no matter how much I was enjoying it before.

    As a writer, my endings are never 100% happy. There's always sacrifice and hardship, and the good guys may not even win in some cases, but throughout all the bleakness left at the end (which varies from book to book), there is usually a sense of hope leftover. Hope is more satisfying than happiness in an ending, IMO, since hope gives us a reason to live even when other things in life seem determined to rip happiness away. (My favorite author, Lynne Ewing, always had a sense of hope in her endings, no matter how tragic some were, so I likely picked this up from her, haha!)

  10. As long as the ending isn't a cliffhanger I'm happy. I like things to be solved and all lose ends tied, of course I don't mind a little bit of "open ending" either.
    PS: I love your new blog background and header. :)

  11. The funny thing is despite all of this, the ending gets less revision love than the beginning.

    Good luck with the query march! :D

  12. I'm going to miss the alphabet march too--you've all taught me so much and been so willing to share your ideas. THANK YOU!

    Naturally flowing endings, not predictable ones but ones that flow naturally, are needed. And to address Marcia and Stina's comments, I think endings get less revision (perhaps) because we know the characters so much better than when we first started the ms.

  13. i'm in the same stage of this race/march - hoping to get my manuscript out the door next week. eeee! congrats, and can't wait to hear about your progress :O)

  14. I was thinking about this post again today, so I suppose that means I need to add a comment (I've been a stealthy blog reader lately, hehe).

    Is anything ever fully resolved? Even in real life situations, we handle them as best as we can and move forward to new life situations. Sometimes new doors open, so loose ends don't tied. In certain books, I appreciate a nice solid start, resolution and finish. But I think other books need to be left open because it echoes life. Plus, I like being given the responsibility to write my own endings to books. (Hehe, there are many books that I wish didn't have a clean ending).

    Anyway, as I said, clearly this made an impression on me as I keep thinking about it. I'm genuinely going to miss reading your ABC march!! :-)


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