One pet peeve I have as both a reader and a writer is abrupt, rushed endings. Writers are often encouraged to build up at an even pace, and to prevent “middle sag” by keeping the action going to the climax. The problem is that having the end in sight tends to bring about a sense of desperation to bring closure to the story, and writers tend to rush through the climax and resolution. I’ve been required to do a 3-5 chapter expansion on Metamorphosis, Emergence, and Trigger, so I can humbly admit it’s a problem for me as a writer. Thank goodness for good beta readers and editors, because those expansions improved each plot drastically. However, the “bigger names” don’t get it as it’s either missed or ignored a lot. I have noticed since publishing these titles that mystery novels in particular tend to rush the endings. I see how this can happen there, as the buildup of clues toward that climax and resolution are critical in building a solid plot, but you must have balance. The pacing of the last third of the book must match the rest; meaning that the more complicated it is, the more intricate the resolution must be.
I’m not saying that we should do like The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the King and spend the entire last third of the book tying up every single plot point or issue in the entire trilogy. That wouldn’t leave room for prequels, sequels, or “sister stories.” I am saying that we have to be sensitive to reader/viewer need for closure, and at least need to provide a comprehensive enough climax and resolution to give the story a satisfying ending. We all have problems, chaos, and difficult circumstances in life. We all have tough seasons. Fiction gives us both an escape and a release by showing us that it’s a universal thing we all go through, and that these problems can be resolved. It’s ok to have problems. It’s ok to heal. It’s ok to want justice for the wrongs done to us, and to see things work out in the end. It’s ok to go through tough times and be ok in the end. It’s ok to move on. For fiction to be believable, it needs to mimic reality by showing the process of characters adjusting to a new reality, experiencing new circumstances as a result of the actions of the climax, and moving on to resolution. House of Cards erred in having no hint of evolving circumstances or resolution. It hit an unexpected climax, and ended. There was no way to know the full impact of that final, drastic action. If that happened in reality, then it would certainly have some very dramatic consequences, starting immediately when that scene ended. But viewers don’t see that, so they don’t know if the continued political charade did end in the collapse of the house of cards that this series built. It was hinted at in one very low-key scene before the final one – but we don’t know, and perhaps never will.
Maybe I’m being persnickety because it’s an error that I’ve been called on in my own writing, so I’m more aware of it. The standards are definitely higher for us indie writers, as people are more inclined to nitpick our work than they are the big names from the big publishers, and that double standard will make you more sensitive to things. Yet indie authors are more gracious with their readers, as evidenced by our significantly more reasonable book prices. That’s another blog entry, I suppose.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great rest of the week.