Since yesterday I talked about some of the ways I don’t like to see a story begin at Theme of Absence, I thought it would be a good idea to share what types of endings maybe lead to a rejection.
A predictable (or cliche) twist ending
I’ve written about these things before, but if you’re going to have a twist ending, it better be a good one. A predictable or cliche twist ending can and will ruin an otherwise good story. And never forget: After The Sixth Sense came out nearly twenty years ago, having the main character turn out to be a ghost is no longer a surprise.
A story that isn’t a story
In my humble opinion, a slice-of life-story is not a story. I need a beginning, middle, and end. If I get to the end and say, “Hey wait a minute. Nothing happened,” then it goes to the rejection pile.
An ambiguous ending that serves no purpose
While I just got done saying that every story needs a beginning, middle, and end, sometimes that end may appear absent. And sometimes that works. The “ambiguous ending” is okay if the story still answers the questions it proposes, or at least makes it abundantly clear that the author intends for the reader to answer the questions. If those conditions are not met, I assume the writer didn’t know how to end it, and instead of putting in more work, just said, “Eh screw it” and typed “The End” a few paragraphs too early.
And ending that answers the wrong questions
I wish I could think of a shorter example of this, but why did everyone hate the final episode of Lost? It’s because it answered all the wrong questions and left some of the more important things hanging. I felt the same way about The Sopranos now that I think about it. Either way, if I get to the end of the story and feel like the wrong plot points were resolved, I’m not very likely to accept it.
Here’s another sign of lazy writing to me and I seem to get submissions like this fairly regularly. It’s basically something along the lines of the world is ending and here are a couple of characters watching it happen. The problem I see here is when there is no sign of character growth or development. Simply throwing a few characters in a situation and then killing them doesn’t do anything for me. Show them trying to overcome it before they die, or show them grow as people while they come to terms with the disaster, but simply killing every…just don’t do it.
And that will do it for this list. Thanks for reading and be careful with those characters.
Where am I wrong? Can these endings work? Show us some examples in the comments!
Image by Robert Couse-Baker