• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Hey You Get Off of My Cloud

These days nearly every writer I edit has a petite problem with knowing when to end a paragraph or a chapter. The writers feel the need to cover a really good last line with two or three more, which is like driving three extra nails in the coffin. It’s like wink, wink, nudge, nudge after a joke. Did you get it? Just want to make sure you got it. It’s creepy. It’s like asking someone if they love you or think you’re pretty. Later we can talk about sense of an ending all that heady stuff, but for this moment in time, let’s just say don’t dance on the grave, burying the body is good enough.

Are you guilty?

8 Responses

  1. This made me lol! Being taken hostage by a writer is the worst.

  2. Yes. Anyone who announces their publication but saying they are honored or blessed to be publishing. Unless the Queen of England or the Pope have actually done this- just say what you feel which a polite form of “I am so excited and I hope you will read this.”

  3. No. “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante has the kind of ending I believe in, one that makes sense of the beginning..

  4. I’m intrigued, and think I understand (and want to avoid this very thing). Can you share an example?

  5. Well, I hope not, but what I like most about this – it will make me hyper aware to leave well enough alone.

  6. Not guilty, I hope. A painter once told me that it takes two artists to create good work: one to paint, and the other to tell him when to quit.
    My editor is that other, though I try to make his work easier.

    It helps that I trust my readers.

  7. “Are you guilty?”

    Yes — some sources indicate I was born that way — but of what?

    One of my major fiction-writing problems has always been endings. This may reflect a larger psychological issue, but we’re not here for that.

    There is a formulaic way of ending a story, a way which is taught in workshops — and it is a good way, in its way — the way of returning to something in the opening and touching upon it again — but it is so formulaic, I frequently read only the opening and closing portions of a contemporary short story to see it — it tells me something about the writer and the story. As for the rest of the story, there are so many of them these days and they are so identical and interchangeable, I sometimes wonder why we even bother.

    But I bother. And I have trouble ending my stories and trouble resigning myself to formulaic ways of doing it. So I get out any way I can.

    Chekhov is good at ending stories. Always worth studying.

    I know your point is more strictly that of ending paragraphs and chapters, but I don’t think I commit the sin of not knowing how to get out of them. Maybe I do. What do I know?

    I know that is is early morning and my yogurt and banana await me.

  8. I often boomerang back, like Tetman says, to a nice tidy place. But open-ended-endings (pun int-ended) can be oh so intriguing.

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