October 18, 2012
A best selling writer of fiction will often strive to end a narrative with some memorable sentences in an attempt to entice the reader to come back to his or her work for more. But the ending of a novel very often does not stick in the readers’ mind. They might reflect that the story turned out well or there was a sad conclusion. However, it is not unusual for a story to be inconclusive and in that way it may reflect life itself.
I know one reader who likes to read the last page of a book before buying it. But like many people I hate it if the ending is given away. Fortunately it is often impossible to understand the full significance of last sentences. Some examples can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8181000/8181968.stm
I was planning to cite some examples from the published works of Peatmore Press but for the reasons given above thought it may be counter productive to give too much away.
Perhaps the best way to understand whether the last words of a narrative should have any bearing on a story is to look at the final utterances of real people. Often they are banal and even humorous but it is questionable if they truly reflect a person’s life. To find examples click on http://listverse.com/2007/08/22/20-famous-last-words
No one novel can give everyone a satisfying reading experience so finally to fully understand the frustration that can result from a story not having a proper ending click on the link below.
July 9, 2012
I was watching a re-run of a series on TV called The Agency. Some of the story lines were controversial but the acting and the stories were very good. Then came an episode when the heroine and hero were both in a perilous situation and it looked like they might be killed. I waited for the next episode. It did not come. I thought I missed it so I shrugged and got on with other things, watched and read other stories.
Then the TV channel decided to run the series again giving me a chance to catch up with episodes I had missed. When it came to that last episode I knew what was to happen so I skipped it and eagerly waited for the next. It did not come.
I googled the programme name, “The Agency” and found out that the episode was the last in the series. The TV Company had decided to axe it. I deduced that the writers wrote the ending hoping that there would be such a clamour from the public wanting to know what had happened it would return for another season. This is not without precedent. Conan Doyle had tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes but such was the outcry and demand that he lived on. It may be that the writers of The Agency thought the Company would ask them to make more episodes but the way commerce works means that this did not happen.
So I was left with what I thought was an unsatisfactory ending. Many of us readers, listeners and watchers have experienced this. A classic example can be heard in an old Tony Hancock sketch called the Last Page in which the final page of a paperback “Whodunit” was missing. Only yesterday on Radio 4 I heard that Hemmingway was so undecided about the conclusion to “A Farewell to Arms” he wrote forty-seven different endings.
Recently, a friend commenting on my novel “Victim of Compromise” told me he liked it but found the ending unsatisfactory. I thought about what he had said and mused whether I should have made the ending more of a climax. However, I felt that the story had reached an appropriate conclusion whether satisfactory or not.
No one really likes endings. It is the story that matters. A good story means that everyone wants to know what happens next and that is the way it is with life.