Landing the ending

miss_snark on why it’s hard to pitch/sell novels to editors and agents based on partials: They know, like I do, that the final 20% of the novel is harder to write than the preceding 80%.

Yes, yes, and yes.

I find this matters to me more and more as a reader, too: when I read a book, I really, really want to see the ending landed perfectly. If it isn’t, the journey may still make the book worth reading, but when I set the book aside I’ll feel unsatisfied.

But when the ending is just right–when it’s exactly the ending it needs to be, and the pacing is on, and everything about the book leads us right there–that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

This is true for short stories, too; maybe even more true. One of the biggest flaws I notice, when I’m reading short fiction, is that often the story just stops, instead of truly coming to an ending, let alone the right ending.

One of the best bits of advice I’ve ever gotten about endings is this: if you can’t find the ending, look to the opening; often the ending brings us back to something from the beginning. (I did this without thinking in Secret of the Three Treasures; but for Bones of Faerie I had to very consciously go back to my opening chapter to find the ending, when none of the endings I’d already tried were working.)

I do a lot of rewriting in general–that’s just my writing process–but I especially rewrite the ending. A half dozen or dozen attempts before I get it right, even in rough draft form, aren’t at all unusual.

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