Tag Archives: endings

Please Don’t Try This at Home

Have you ever written a short story, novel or even a grocery list? Odds are your answer would be yes.habenaro

Have you ever read a book, a bedtime story or the directions to put a bicycle together on Christmas Eve? Once again, the answer is most likely yes, although it is remotely possible that one of these may have required the use of a bail bondsman. As far as I know, most states frown upon repeatedly chucking a bicycle into on-coming traffic until there are more parts spread over the road than what you originally dumped from the box–and throwing up all over a police officer does not a good defense make.

The point I’m trying to make by using these analogies is that frequently it takes many small pieces to amass one large object which in turn is much more beneficial than the sum of its parts.

There is one possible exception, and that being the removal of vomit from a police officer’s buttons, badge and other intricate details of the soiled uniform. …Enough said about puke, less we digress.

Back to my point before we found ourselves sliding down Ralph’s road…oops, I said I wouldn’t go there again; please pardon.

When you’re writing a story, you’re bringing many bits of information, and let’s not forget characters, together to form a conclusion or bring about a startling revelation at the end of the book.

When you’re reading a story, even though you did not actually pen the words, you’re still pulling the points together to present an ending.

Now people, listen closely…I really need you to understand for if you don’t, who’s going to explain it to me?

For instance:

I’m at the grocery store picking up ingredients to make a basil pesto. Having plenty of basil in my garden at home, I continue to shop for the remaining necessities (lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts…I also like a touch of anchovy and a little Parmesan cheese).

As I carefully peruse my list, I notice much to my delight that all the ingredients required are already tucked safely away in my cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator at home. I toss the crumpled the list over my shoulder and skip home ready to concoct a culinary delight never before passing through the lips and across the taste buds of any human being.

I remove my food processor from the hardly ever used section of my kitchen cabinets, locate my shears, and walk out to the garden. Obviously, every herbivore on the planet has taken a nibble out of my basil leaving nothing but dead stems. Whatever shall I do? The plant beside the basil is full of pretty green leaves and loaded with a small round orange vegetable. This should do nicely. I uproot the entire plant and move back inside.

I snip off the roots and feed everything that remains into my food processor. As it grinds away, I retrieve the rest of the necessary ingredients. After a methodical search, it appears as though I may have been mistaken concerning a few items I claimed to already have in my possession. No bother, I’ll make substitutions just as I did for the basil. Instead of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts, I add to the light brown mixture still swirling in the processor, orange juice, shortening, horseradish and jelly beans, all perfectly acceptable substitutions.

Then in a stroke of genius, I replace the hint of anchovy and the smidge of Parmesan with a can of sardines (in olive oil, mind you) and a new product I found in the refrigerator, head cheese. I continue the blending process adding the additional ingredients. A strange word keeps popping into my head. Strange yes, but even more unusual this word seems menacingly close…like hot breath on the back of my neck.

Hob.…hobby. No, no that’s not it.….Hob-o-near….Hobanarow….I know!….Habanero…… Never heard of it. I wave my hand over my nose. Something burning…I can hardly breathe. Must be the motor in the food processor. I’ll pick up another one tomorrow.

I believe my heavenly pesto is ready. I scoop up a heaping tablespoon full.

Now do you see how simple ingredients (just as words and phrases) in the end, unite in perfect harmony.

I slide the spoon into my mouth, enjoying the silken texture. I swallow. My stomach begins to gurgle. Seconds later my head explodes. Fire shoots no less than 30 feet from my mouth. My stomach gurgles again this time signifying the ensuing geyser.

I know I promised not to say it again as I run down the hall toward the bathroom, but there’s no way around it, because here it comes.

Gravy and grits baby, gravy and grits!

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The End

When it comes to ending your novel do you know how it will conclude before you begin?CONSUMER-PROTECTION-LAW Is it because you have carefully outlined the book from start to finish?

Perhaps you outline sections of the book so that the ending will not be apparent until you’ve begun the last section?

Or maybe you fly by the seat of your pants, not knowing what will happen from the time you start until the time you end? (This one works best for me)

On a side note: Why did novels, back in the day, actually end with, “the end?” Did the reader not know they had reached the end of the book when they ran out of words?

All this talk about ending brings several thoughts to mind; the first being–things end.

The second being; if you wait long enough, everything ends.

Now, this is going to seem like an extremely odd segue into today’s topic, but that’s only because it is. And, if you view the topic in the context that everything has an ending, then this entire post will make perfect sense…I think.

Why do commercials portray us as inept and then become our best friends by the time the commercial ends? (Notice how I unexpectedly slid “end” into that sentence)

Case in point:

Watch someone slice a tomato before they purchase the advertised knife. Tomato guts splatter everywhere. Once the manufacturer of said knife convinces you that the purchase of this miracle product will cure all your slicing ills, you will be able to saw through anything (cinder blocks, engine blocks, etc.) and still slice tomatoes so thin, they only have one side.

Example number two:

What does America have an obsession with? Answer: Weight loss. We can shake it away, we can purchase pre-packaged food to eliminate our flab or we can ingest various supplements that guarantee results. Unfortunately, some supplements can cause heart attacks, liver and kidney problems–all in the name of weight loss. Then again, we can slide in a DVD and exercise like a maniac on crack.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that your average American consumer is not as stupid as they would like to think we thought that they thought we thought they thought we were…Once again, I think.

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The Final Chapter

How do you want the book you’re reading to end? Take a moment and think about it. If you could write the last chapter, would the hero and heroine ride off together into the sunset, living happily ever after? Or would it read like a Scorsese film having every character with any redeeming quality die a horrible death in the final pages? Perhaps you would leave the story hanging, primed for a sequel?

How ever you decide to conclude the story, I think matters a great deal. After all it’s the taste you’re leaving in the mouth of your readership. I’m working on a series that has now grown to four books. Since I’ve passed what you would call a trilogy, I suppose I could call it a quadrilogy. If the series continues to a fifth novel, then sencrilogy would be next in line according to my reckoning.

Inventing new words has become a favorite pastime of mine and since Microsoft Word has the “add to dictionary” option it’s now perfectly legitimate. Just like words, there are so many different ways to end a book. The storyline, along with a consideration, or two aimed toward a good finish will go a long way in making the reader continue to think even after the last word is read. Otherwise a great story becomes mediocre with a lack luster conclusion.

Here are some rules I end by. If the book stands alone with no sequel the ending can be anywhere from a twist that no one expected to a simple “the end” where everyone say’s their goodbye’s and goes about their business. I’d rather mine end a bit more thought-provoking,  raising a question or two, yet not with so much fanfare as to cloud the story.

With a series, I like to complete the story and then in the last chapter leave the reader hanging by a thread as a segue into the next book. Ya know… the more I think about it every book has its own challenges when it comes to crafting a suitable ending.  So in conclusion, I’ll end my books; you end your books; and I’ll consider this posting a rhetorical question.

Happy endings…..

Lynn

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