I recently read a book. I loved it; a cynical, jaded, altogether unsympathetic main character made through sharp dialogue and subtlety in action into the anti-hero you want to cheer on, even if he’s doing all the wrong things.
Then the ending happened.
I won’t say it was a bad ending. It tidied everything up neatly, took care of all the problems, and set the (remaining) characters off on their way with the right degree of this is completed, but there’s more for these people in life. Still, the ending. It niggles at me as too quick, too wrapped up. It rushed through a somewhat surprising turn and almost seemed to state, “There. All the loose ends have been taken care of. Are you satisfied?”
The answer to my imagined question is, unfortunately, no. Not really. The ended could have, and from my perspective, should have been drawn out further. The final chapter lacked the same wry interaction (largely because most of the characters died), and I felt like the protagonist began acting outside of his normal bounds, without a proper reason. Oh, sure, I know what part of the story was meant to act as the turning point, his trigger to behaving a little more compassionate. But I didn’t believe it.
Just because I can identify the when and why of this character’s motivation doesn’t mean I buy it.
Maybe that’s me being weird. Maybe it’s my background in psychology making the developments ring false. I would probably need to re-read the book, perhaps even several times, before I could pin down exactly what throws me about the ending.
Nevertheless, I’ve learnt something from this story, which I still think is pretty awesome. The ending is actually the most important part of your story. It’s the last taste we get of your characters, and the world they are in. It’s the part which will linger, because it’s the freshest in our memory. A weak ending could very easily ruin an otherwise good book.
Cue writer’s paranoia! Does my ending measure up? Have I made it too obvious and forced that all the pieces are coming together and being taken care of? Does it finish at the right pace?
It’s a wonder I’ve survived being an author as long as I have. Egad.