• 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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God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You

Something I’ve noticed a lot of writers do is what I call stepping on their own lines. It’s when you write a sentence or two more than necessary at the end of a paragraph or chapter end. It’s as if you’ve glued the thing down and then you have the urge to throw a nail in on top of it. It’s bad for a few a reasons: a) you don’t trust your reader. b) you don’t trust yourself. c) you forfeit the beauty of understatement d) you lose the moment. Every time I start overwriting an ending, I try to remember to dial it back. It almost always works.

How do you find your endings?

8 Responses

  1. Recently I’ve become enamored with Paulette Jiles, author of News of the World, and the book I think most will recognize. Since reading that, I’ve read Enemy Women, and Simon the Fiddler. I loved them all, but Enemy Women is my favorite, and Adair is my new favorite heroine. She’s Scarlet O’Hara with sass and savvy. The ending of Enemy Women is perfect – and while I wanted more details, I think Jiles did what you are talking about here, giving the reader the beauty of an understatement.

    I know my ending – but haven’t written it yet. When I do write it, I envision it as that understated moment, giving the reader the opportunity to have a realization, an “Oh!” reaction. In that one sentence, I plan to wrap it all up.

  2. It’s exactly as you say. For me, endings are the hardest part. “How do I get off this thing? How do I make it stop? How do I jump off, hit the ground and roll, and spring to my feet to take a bow? Ta-da!” Sometimes all it takes is to cut what I thought would be the last line, and end it one line sooner.

  3. When I say “heh” and twist the knife. (Guys, I’m not a murderer, just a poet.)

  4. The timing of this post will be my talisman. Due to all the wackiness of the past 24 months, the ending for my nonfiction manuscript has shifted in accommodation to all the factors that have affected the ending. I finally decided last night to just acknowledge the unknown and submit it. Keep a good thought for it – and me!

  5. My endings are rather straight forward. I always start with the end in mind. But, I have troubles when I go back to tie up all the cute little scenes and sub-plots. I leave a few things open because life is ambiguous, so why not stories.

  6. “You had me at hello.”

  7. I try to avoid making a statement and hope that suffices as a statement.

  8. I typically know the ending right after I know the premise. It might go somewhere else but it probably won’t.

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