The Perfect Ending: Challenges of Writing

Lately I’ve been struggling with a couple of different short stories because, even though they’re “complete,” they aren’t finished — not by a long shot. And the primary reason for this is simply that the endings aren’t right. The endings work, sure. The endings might be interesting, sure. But they aren’t right. They aren’t perfect.

So, bearing in mind that perfection isn’t terribly realistic, I’d like to beg you the following questions:

What’s the best ending to a book or short story that you’ve ever read or written? And, what makes it the best for you? Its artfulness? Its surprise? Its brevity? Its largess?

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3 thoughts on “The Perfect Ending: Challenges of Writing”

  1. Long ago I read The Color of Light by William Goldman. I can’t remember why I found the ending so stunning, but I’ve always remembered the book *because* of its ending. Guess I need to see if my library has it, so I can re-read…

  2. “A Tale of Two Cities” was my first literal tear-jerker, in public, in high school English class. I also favor John Irving’s satisfying endings that wrap up the fates of characters major and minor as well as their progeny. “Gone With The Wind” is one of the most jarring endings in the history of pop fiction. My least favorite endings are those “it was all a dream” cheats, the only thing I don’t love about “Alice in Wonderland.”

  3. I’m not sure how I’d go about choosing a ‘best ever’ ending, but I’ve just finished reading Trap Lines in Thomas King’s collection ‘One Good Story, That One’, and the ending of this story is wonderful. I think it’s partly because it pulls everything together, and partly because the story is really funny and then – wham – the last line is so moving.

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