Endings, I feel, are vastly important.
I recently read Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin and, while her writing was a bit unorthodox I did feel that pull toward the characters and was able to envision the world she had created. The ending, however, disappointed the hell out of me.
For those of you who don’t know – and don’t feel badly, I didn’t know about her either until a friend of mine suggested the book – Gifts is a fantasy novel about a race of people who have, well, gifts. Some can destroy life, some can heal the sick, some can make you do things unwillingly, and some can call animals. There are other gifts as well, and there are those who have no gifts at all. It’s a rather intriguing plot, the characters are well-written, and the narration is strangely wonderful – think of a story within a story within a story type of deal, all being told by a blind man.
All good things.
Until the last few chapters.
Nothing happened. And I understand that sometimes, in certain stories, nothing should happen but in a story like this, with such a destructive fascinating quality to it, something should have happened. Anything should have happened. I don’t want to give it away, in case any of my readers would like to try the story out – but I must warn you, be prepared! Nothing happens! The lack of an ‘ending’ shocked me. And not in a good way I might add. The thing that annoyed me most? She’s a good writer! She has a lovely idea, solid characters, and a fantasy world that’s believable! And then she botches the ending? I was sorely disappointed.
(Honestly, it reminded me of the ending of The Hunger Games – also disappointing as all get out – but I won’t get into that right now.)
And so, I hope the ink pooling into words on this page will sufficiently capture how loudly I shout – ENDINGS ARE IMPORTANT! If you’ve spent hours, days, moths, years, or merely seconds on a piece of work, have an ending readers will enjoy. End it so the characters get retribution, end it so the links connect, end it so the plot has meaning, life, wisdom to it somehow, someway, to someone.
End it well.
If you don’t the botched ending will be the one thing people remember, the one thing your readers will talk about in the coming days, months, even years. If you don’t, you’ll face the audience, your audience, merely shrugging when they speak of your work. Is that what you want? No.
Until next time.