The End

Looney Tunes Ending

Looney Tunes Ending

For many authors, there is one piece of a story that is the toughest and scariest:  THE END.  You might have a plan for it or you might not, but there is something about writing that last chapter/page/paragraph/line that hits hard.  The initial adventure is now complete and only editing remains.  I’ve heard a few authors say that it begins feeling more like work around this time, which is a shame and probably why it helps to take a break for a month before starting editing.

I think it has to do with leaving the characters behind even though they’re still inside your head.  You get put into a strange state where you’re happy to have completed the book/series, but you don’t really want it to be done.  Maybe some of the authors who are in a perpetual state of editing/rewriting are stuck within this mentality.  You simply don’t feel like you’re ready or even willing to go to the next story.  Another version I’ve heard is that a piece of you is out of your body and it takes time to fill the void.

As someone who is writing a series, I manage to avoid the full brunt of being done with a story.  There is always a new book and a continuation of the adventure.  That being said, I dread the day I write the final line of Legends of Windemere.  Even though I have other series coming up, it’s going to be hard to let this one go.  Honestly, I think about this every time I finish writing one of the books.  It’s like every completion is a step toward a state of confusion because I won’t have Luke, Nyx, and the others to work with.  Sure, the survivors might appear as cameos in other series, but it’ll feel like I’m starting at the ground floor again when I move on to the next series.  I’m going to cushion it with a tie-in story if the plot goes there, but eventually I’ll have to leave these characters to their ending and move on . . . or back depending on how you look at it.

So, what do you do when you come to the end of a story?  Do you feel any apprehension when you get to THE END or do you feel more anxious for the next adventure?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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45 Responses to The End

  1. It’s kind of a double-edged sword, right? 😀 On the one hand, it’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment on finishing, but then you realise all the other work that still has to be done! Plus, leaving behind characters and story that you’ve spent so much time with can be rather sad :/

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  2. Sue Vincent says:

    Never enjoyed leaving the characters… even as a reader!

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  3. sknicholls says:

    For some reason. I don’t even know why. I have never typed The End on the last page of a work. maybe it just seems too final.

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    • I never did that either. Though, I’m on the fence about doing it when Legends of Windemere ends. Technically, it isn’t a true end since the survivors will shift to occasional cameos in other series. The world will go on, so it isn’t really an end.

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  4. I don’t have this problem to this degree. I write single stories, and know series sell better. My characters hang around and tell me what they wind up doing, but I don’t write it. I try to concentrate on the next work.

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    • Do you think you would ever write the other stories and have a continuation of a previous tale?

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      • Sure. If the sales were there, I would consider it. I think starting from scratch every time made me a better writer – faster.

        Panama would be easy to write a sequel for. Some of the others would take a bit of work. Arson, for instance, I don’t see the need of a sequel. This has to do with the way it ended and what the characters accomplished.

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      • I enjoy starting from scratch, but I think my gravitation toward series works for how my mind operates. I like foreshadowing and interconnecting events that can cause people to go back through books to see if they missed anything. That’s just me though.

        Good point with how a book ends determining a sequel. There are TV shows and book series that go beyond the real ending, which ends up hurting everything that came before it. An author has to know when to stop.

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      • It amazes me how many volumes some authors can get out of a character. I’ll use Harry Dresden as an example, since I’m reading another one right now. And the stories are consistently fun.

        I think my character would die after three.

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      • It is amazing. Drizzt is a fantasy hero who has been going since the 1980’s. It’s all about the evolution and having it be a series of rises and falls instead of a constant upward motion. Personally, I think falling back a few steps makes a character deeper because they get to react to losing what they earned.

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      • Great point. I never really thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense in a series.

        Maybe that’s why they destroyed the Enterprise so many times.

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      • I always wanted one of the characters to just shrug and go ‘must be Thursday’ or something. I’m guessing Kirk became uninsurable at some point. 🙂

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  5. quiall says:

    I write short stories and the ending is my favourite part! Quite often the ending comes first and drives the story.

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    • Interesting. I did the same thing with my novellas. For me, shorter works seem to run smoother if I’m aiming for a specific ending. The longer ones tend to have an overall approach with the finale changing all the time.

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  6. I’m not afraid or apprehensive of endings; I just find it difficult to write what I deem a “perfect” ending. I talk about why in my blog post The End. I have to say it somewhat relates to your statement that it involves leaving the characters behind and moving on – only for me it’s because I know my readers have to leave the characters behind and often don’t want to.

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  7. L. Marie says:

    I’m sure finishing Windemere will be tough emotionally. Whenever I finish even one book, especially if I’ve worked on it several months or a year, I feel a bit bereft afterward.

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    • I’m going to cushion the blow with a one-shot if a certain character makes it to the end. I have to admit that one benefit of working within the same world is that I can revisit the old characters if the opportunity appears.

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  8. I’m torn by the end. Is it the end? How do I know for sure? These are always my questions when writing…

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  9. The story’s over? Say it isn’t so! 🙂

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  10. Suggestions: Don’t tie up ALL the loose ends, remind the reader of things that haven’t been resolved, along with hints of the support cast (or non player characters as old school dungeoneers call them) who can pick up the torch or step in to a whole new adventure. Of course, there are always new heroes and villains being born every day or some lost in the archives of history or mythology that escape their pages and prisons who can cause havoc in Windermere? The end is something I love to play with personally as the majority of my fiction ends with the same first word or sentence as the beginning, therefore, the puzzle for me is how to make this work without ‘copping out’, trying to put a spin on it. In my novel, every chapter begins and ends with the same first word or sentence, something a bit different, quirky and hopefully makes for an intelligent and compelling read… we’ll see! Best of luck with your ending, Charles, remember, even death is only the beginning. Characters still have many adventures in them long after they are ‘gone’, an exploration of Windermere’s afterlife or a surprise where the spirit/soul/essence lingers on some plane as in limbo until a new ‘host ‘can be found could be cool (I checked, we’re still okay to say ‘cool’), lots to think on, good post. Keep smiling and keep writing, pal. 🙂

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    • That works for part of a series, but I don’t think leaving loose ends is a great idea for the final book. Readers need closure and you can lose repeat readers and new readers if it comes out that you left them hanging. Especially if one doesn’t plan on writing any other stories. For example, if I end with one of my heroes trapped between worlds and never reveal what happened, it makes it look like I either forgot or wrote myself into a corner. A reader might see every mystery as that situation, so it tarnishes the other books. Again, this is solely for the actual ending of a series where you’re not going to write anything else.

      Eh, Windemere afterlife tends to be a bit boring. You die, go to one of the planes, wait for your favored deity to pick you up, and then you spend eternity in their castle.

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  11. I have the end in mind from the beginning. For my last John Cannon story, I have the last three lines written and have pretty much since I started.

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  12. I find that the last line in poetry is by far the most difficult for me, sometimes I’m not sure that my endings are at all correct, but at some point I just have to end them the best that I can. At times, this can be very frustrating.

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  13. I wrote a multi-year saga for a Dragonriders of Pern newsletter and distinctly recall feeling bittersweet as I finished up the last story. But, usually, I’m excited at the end of a novel. If I “stick the landing,” I’ll celebrate and bask in the glow for several days. But if I don’t stick the ending, it makes me so unhappy that I start rewrites right away.

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