One of the questions I hear most often from writers is how to write a good ending. Hemingway said he wrote 39 different endings to A Farewell to Arms, and I know that most writers have reckoned with nearly as many endings to a story at some point in their writing life, no matter if it’s a novel or a short story.
I love Jayne Anne Phillips’s definition of an ending. It can be easy to let yourself fall into a surprise ending. I've found poetry, as you mentioned, to be a great help in writing fiction, especially short stories. I think many writers overlook poetry.
Hey Grant, some valuable insights here. Given the topic, I feel justified in plugging a Substack post I did on trying to get into the, er, zone of writing, to which you might relate. Anyway, keep it up.
In my niche of literary interests, it seems like beginnings get more attention and get immortalized much more often than endings. This is a good reflection on the tricky difficulty of endings. It makes me want to revisit how some of my favorite novels concluded.
I like this idea: The end of things, the real end, is never a neat turn of the screw.
I write memoir in essays, and I have to negotiate endings every 3 or 4,000 word or so. And I always have trouble. My challenge is to conclude so that the reader understands but without sentimentality, preachiness, or over explaining.