Filed under: Dave White
I had a teacher who used to say “they’ll only remember the beginning and the ending.”
I believe that saying. Especially about the ending. Yes, the beginning is what drags readers into a book, but the ending is what sticks with a reader.
I love the sucker punch ending. Books that just reach out, grab you, and when you hit that final page you are breathless. The ending that sticks with you, that you think about for days, picking it apart and letting it haunt your dreams.
The ending that’s always stuck with me was Dennis Lehane’s SHUTTER ISLAND. Not the “twist,” I saw that coming at least 100 pages from the end. No, the moments that followed the twist where we find out what actually happened. The description of “logs” in the water. So sad, so deep. That’s what stuck with me. I still get chills regarding that chapter. That novel punched me in the gut and here 4 years later, it still won’t let go.
I want my endings to do that. I want to grip the reader and continually turn the screw, revelation after revelation. Characters should go through hell so readers can be shocked. Moments, scenes, words should stick with the reader.
At the same time the ending has to be aesthetically pleasing as well. It can’t just shock for shock’s sake. It has to work with what came before. Motivations have to make sense, twists have to be plausible. As a reader, you have to believe in them in the world of the book. Readers have to believe what happened. They have to care.
Hopefully, that will happen with WHEN ONE MAN DIES. Hopefully the reader will care. Hopefully the ending will stick with them.
(Can you tell I’m getting close to the end of revising my second book?)
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