I just read a book called The Sense of an Ending that didn’t have a great conclusion. I tried to determine whether it was on purpose, whether it was an ironic play off its title. Then again, I don’t remember the ending anymore, so who knows?
I forget endings quickly, of books and of reality shows. Are we really supposed to remember endings? They feel good when they happen, but they don’t define the story.
I just had the third Hunger Games ruined for me at an elementary school fifth grade speech contest. I cried out in frustration, though I gave up reading the books after the first one, claiming I wasn’t interested. Obviously I was actually very interested.
The problem wasn’t that I know what happens in The Hunger Games. The problem is that I’ll never get the same feeling of an ending. I feel so sad for whoever knows the ending of Book 6 of Harry Potter.
Today I tried to teach high school students how to write the conclusion of an essay. “You just feel it,” I said, and then I used words like “oomph” and “bang” to try to make them feel it. I asked them if haven’t they read an article and been so excited by the last sentence? They hadn’t, but I have. I get excited about conclusions, then I forget them.
I announced the completion of the first draft of my novel even though I had left it mid sentence. It felt wrong to tag on a horrible conclusion when I was so ready to go back to the beginning and change things. I knew that if the story changed, the ending had to as well, so what’s the point in writing the wrong one?
The ending I have now is short, one paragraph. It tries to wrap up everything and make you say things like “bang!” and but at the same time it’s trying to make you remember the story and tell you that I did it, I finished it. The thing an ending has to be is just the feeling of an ending. So this feels like an ending.
I hate when I turn to the next page and there are acknowledgments, or details of what parts of this book were real and which ones fake. I hate not realizing I’m at the ending, and not getting the beauty of an ending, the sense of power that comes from someone wrapping it all up.
Today I made the poor high school students rewrite their conclusions. I told them to leave the reader thinking, to make the reader feel like they had learned something. Everyone did it better than the book that was called “the sense of an ending.”
(photo credit George Giannakos – he sent me this with the title ‘The End of the World’)