On Stories: “End”

A. E. here. Today is one of my “On Writing” posts, where I talk about certain subjects and topics that deal with writing and the writing life.

Today, I want to talk about the ending of stories, or rather, the fact that stories NEED to end.

Let’s pretend you’re on book twenty-five of a series. The plot has stretched on and on. New plots show up, resolve and disappear. Characters don’t seem to age.

Is there an ending? Will this story ever stop?

The author’s been writing with the same cast of characters for twenty years.

What is the ending? When does the story come to a close?

In my opinion, a story is only a story if it ends. If a story is going on and on for years, then its not a story, it’s like an unending conversation. The point of a story is to end.

Tell the story, tell us what happens, tell us how it ends. Then tell another story. Stories that don’t end is problematic. Sometimes a story is finished, and there’s nothing else left to tell.

And I’m not the only person who believes this. Remember the movie The Iron Giant? It’s a Warner Brothers sci-fi action animated film that was released in 1999. Plenty of people have wanted to know why there was a never a sequel. The director Brad Bird was asked why there never had been an Iron Giant sequel. His answer?

Two simple answers. 1) On its original release, the film was a financial flop. 2) There’s no need. The first one tells the story I set out to tell. Some stories actually end with THE END.

Brad Bird

Thank you! END YOUR STORY. Not every story needs to go on forever, not unless it’s the Neverending Story, of course. Other than that, please end. Tell the story you want to tell and finish it.

Just think about some major stories out there that still don’t have an ending. I’ll admit I’ve never read the Game of Thrones but I assure you as long as it remains unfinished, I won’t pick it up. I won’t start reading something that’s not finished.

Think about it. What’s the point in a story that doesn’t end? I know about loving the characters and loving the world but that doesn’t mean the end is goodbye.

The end means you can close the book and turn to the beginning again.

The end means you can start over and fall in love again and again. Each time you re-read, you find something else new to love.

But without an ending, you don’t get that. Instead you get waiting. Waiting to know what’s next. Waiting to know what happened. Waiting to know who lives or who dies.

And you know what? No one likes to wait. Waiting is painful and miserable. And while anticipation is fun and all, even anticipation can become misery the longer and longer you’re anticipating.

So finish it. Finish your story. Tell us the entire story, tell us what you want us to know, then write the end.

And as always, while I write my cat Aomine keeps me company by my side.

I write she sleeps, that’s the deal. Sometimes I wish we could switch.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Vanessa Sprankle says:

    ha ha I needed this. I think the problem is sometimes you fall in love with your world and don’t want to leave. The author becomes the guest that doesn’t get the hint. That’s me. But you’re right. Gotta leave at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed! And I know what you mean. But for me I have so many stories to tell that I’d rather finish my story so I can tell another one. A series I read that have been going on with the same characters since 1993 and its like finish your story already. How can you live in the same fictional world with the same characters for almost as long as I’ve been alive? You’ve got to end it already. What do you write currently?


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