NaNoWriMo Preview: Finding the ending

I think one of the most challenging aspects of writing, especially with fiction, is finding how a story will end.

I’ve found that most writers can find beginnings and middles, but most of us find the endings to be elusive. I suspect that this elusivity comes from the fact that the ending of a story often contains the answer to the question “why?”.

For me at least, the end of a story explains why the characters went through all of these things from the characters’ point of view. The ending represents the point, the conclusion to all of the events that proceeded it. It doesn’t even have to be a happy ending for these reasons to be true, but the need for explanation is still there.

While I am writing a story, knowing the ending serves as a kind of lighthouse for the writing process. Knowing the ending helps guide me through the story, especially at parts where it wants to meander or get lost. In a lot of ways, knowing the ending is what helps me generate the beginning and the middle.

Of course, finding the ending can be easier said than done, which is why I think so many writers struggle with the idea, and thereby with writing complete works themselves. I think the solution to this problem is to engage in the active thinking I referred to before when I wrote about how to find ideas.

Very often, I find that the stories that I write that succeed the best are the ones I’ve thought about the most, and in doing that thinking, I discover that I inevitably have to deal with the question of “why is this happening at all?”. Once I deal with that question, the rest of the story seems to flow from that answer.