By C Reg Jones, 2013-10-24
I have a plot down.
It has a fiery beginning, a workable, tense middle, (which is no small feat when you consider it's set almost entirely in a set of rooms in a hotel), and an ending.
An ending, I'm afraid to say, that wilts off the back like a broken salami.
Which is not good.
An ending can make or break a story. Remember the film, "The Sixth Sense"? M. Night Shyamalan made his name on the back of a mediocre plot, some great acting, and afinale that had tongues wagging all over Tinsel-town.
Or "Fight Club", "The Talented Mr. Ripley", "Angel Heart", "Planet Of The Apes", etc. etc. etc. You get the idea. A great ending is something to strive for, and something that I haven't always achieved, but I'll come to that later.
Another example of the importance of a good finish is, "The Leader and the Damned" by Colin Forbes.
In the early 90's I worked as an armed guard for the army in Hanover station. It was the perfect halfway house for me, as I'd just left the forces at that time, and wasn't sure what I'd do with my life, (nothing, as it turned out). We were all ex-military so the banter and attitude was spot on; 75% of the lads were from my regiment, says it all really.
I shared my work and spare time with a clique of avid drinkers and book readers/ amateur critics, who were merciless when it came to what would be accepted into our collective library. This was the time when English books were few and far between, due to their price and availability, and we'd swap good books like kids trading football cards, jealously guarding the keepers and chucking out the expendable from the communal pot.
Incidentally, my beta readers are some of that same gang, and they're as pitiless with me now as they were with Ludlum, Archer, and Le Carre... which is a good thing, I keep telling myself, on a regular basis.
"The Leader and the Damned" was voted the worst book ending ever by the chaps, and was summarily excommunicated for crimes against the written word. The ghost of that condemnation still sits deep today, as I haven't read another Forbes book since, despite the few, dog-eared paperbacks, (Terminal and Cross of Fire) still taking up space on my book shelves.
Endings, dear reader, can kill your book.
I wrote a short story a while a go about Caesar being a vampire, and posted it on my Blog for everyone to read. The story itself was good, but the ending came out of nowhere, and I was very happy with it. I so wish I had the words to say how satisfying it was to read the gasping shock that was almost audible in the feedback.
That twist in the tail is something I try for in every story I write.
So imagine my dismay when one of the first reviewers for "House" on Amazon.comwrote this,
"The book was good but then came to a very quick/ abrupt end. Reader was just left hanging after the second last chapterand the last chapter jumped forward a number of year with no indication of what had happened after all the drama."
I've thought a lot about how the lady arrived at this conclusion? Her spelling and grammar isn't spot on, does this mean she simply didn't understand what happened, (which is what I condescendingly, and possibly unfairly suspect). Or was there a glitch when she downloaded it and not everything came through?
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that she didn't understand/like it, and thus only gave it three out of five stars. All down to her perception of the ending of a book she enjoyed.
And that's why I'm banging my head about a good ending... which is something this post doesn't have.
It'll come, I know it will. In the mean time I'll simply slog on with the book and then change it all when that " Eureka moment" comes.
Take it easy.
ps. It took me three days to write this. I broke my right index finger and typing with only the left hand is a right canicula...