There are good endings and there are bad endings.
For example: I was a huge fan of the TV series Merlin. I watched every episode, every season. In the series, Merlin was the servant of Arthur, but I knew who he would eventually become. As each season passed, I couldn’t wait for the final revelation: for Arthur to realize that it had been Merlin helping him all along and for both of them to lead Camelot together.
Spoilers (for anyone who hasn’t watched Merlin)…
They both died. Yep. Arthur found out who Merlin was, hated him (because Merlin possessed magic), but finally accepted him with his last breath. Merlin died too. And Guinevere lived on to rule Camelot alone.
That’s not what I was expecting. And that is not what I wanted! I was so upset that until this post, I have refused to talk about Merlin. Sigh.
Another example: LOST. Yes, I can see all of you shaking your heads. That’s right. LOST is another TV series I followed faithfully to the end. What was the island? Where did it’s power come from? Was it real or was it purgatory?
None of my questions were answered. Instead, the series ended with everyone in some kind of heaven looking back on their time on the island.
That was definitely not satisfying.
So now let me give you a good ending. I just finish Fullmetal Alchemist, a Japanese anime (yep, love anime). This story kept building and building up from the beginning. I was hanging on my seat. I knew the good guys had to win, but I didn’t see how it could happen. People were dying, making hard choices, losing loved ones.
It took all of season five to finish. But the ending was exactly as it should be (at least for me): gripping, bittersweet, and satisfying. It wrapped up all the threads. It was a happy ending, but that didn’t mean everyone lived, or were given their just reward. It ended just the way I was expecting (or perhaps hoping is a better word) and so much more.
As I turned off Fullmetal Alchemist, I knew I wanted to generate the feelings I was feeling right then in my readers when they finish Heir of Hope, the third and final book in my Follower of the Word series.
Friends, let me tell you this has been a difficult book to write. There is always darkness before the dawn, and there is a lot of darkness in this book. A lot of pain, a lot of sorrow.
But there is also hope, and a maturing of characters and relationships.
I am almost near the end, and I am tired (and so are my characters). I thought I would finish the rough draft next week, and that is not going to happen. Just a few days ago I wanted to throw my computer out the window and shout, “I’m never going to finish!”
But I will. I need to. I know what is going to happen, but I need to write it out and see it for myself.
So thank you for your patience. I don’t want an unsatisfying ending. I want one that grips you and stays with you, keeps you up at night thinking, and when you face something difficult in your everyday life, you think of Rowen, Lore, Caleb, and Nierne, and because they could go on, you can too.
I only have one chance to end Follower of the Word series and I want to end it well. I believe you will appreciate that when you open up Heir of Hope and read to the last page.
7 thoughts on “Endings”
Praying for you to finish strong, not lose heart and be true to your characters.
Morgan!! The more I get to know you, the more awesome I discover you are! I LOVE Fullmetal Alchemist. It’s one of my favorite anime of all time! I’m praying as you continue working and can’t wait to see how God is going to use your story.
Haha! Yes, I love Fullmetal! And thanks for your prayers. Writing is a lonely occupation and I’ve been feeling that loneliness keenly the last couple weeks.
Yes, Lost had the muddled ending. The series itself unfolded like a novel, but the last episode, especially the whole pluralistic vision of religion, really didn’t live up to what came before.
That’s the story of many novels. I’m always amazed how anticlimactic some books are in their ending. “Really?” seems to pop up in my mind far too much.
More is at stake in a series, especially if it spans decades like The Wheel of Time (sorry, but I gave up around book 11). However, a series does give an author more time to develop the story and characters and not rush to a bad ending.
Given your first two books, I doubt readers have much to worry about. You’ll know when it is ready. Great stories take on a life of their own and their characters will tell you when it is time to end.
Thank you! A friend of mine said that when you are writing, sometimes you go so deep it is hard to come back to the surface. You feel and experience everything your characters are feeling and going through. And it doesn’t help when what you’re experiencing is dark. I told another friend I should write a fluffy book next time lol.
Please don’t start writing pioneer-romance novels!