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♥ Guest Post ♥
THE ART OF ENDING A SHORT STORY
By Sara Fawkes
“Fling: A BDSM Anthology” blog post
Once upon a time, I couldn’t write a short story to save my life.
I know, it sounds like short stories would be easier than longer stories. I mean, come on, you get to end it early! All done, time to move onto the next one!
But mine wouldn’t end. In fact, they’d go on and on and on, until I grew sick of the story and characters. Well okay, it was more of an attention span issue (ADD raises its ugly head!), but I couldn’t seem to figure out where to end the story. There was always another conflict for them to resolve, another lesson to learn, another foe to vanquish. You know, kinda like how life works: a never-ending sea of decisions and consequences and resolutions until we die.
Yeah, I’m a wonderful motivational speaker.
I’ll be honest, I despaired of ever understanding short stories. Whether they be novellas or flash fiction, I couldn’t seem to write without wanting to continue. The story wasn’t over, my brain argued. You can’t get a resolution that quickly, there needs to be more angst, more struggle, more story.
Then, lo and behold, I fell in love.
It sounds silly right? What does falling in love have to do with ending a danged story? We all like to think in terms of Happily Ever After: the prince rides off with the princess into the sunset and they live forever happy. Except you don’t know that. You know what’s happening right now, the “ending” right then. He vanquished the dragon; their love is strong. Perfect ending, right?
But it’s NOT the ending, my brain used to tell me. There’s way more to their story!
It took me a while to come to terms with the concept of Happy For Now. One of the things both readers and writers have in abundance is imagination. I mean, how else could we take words and spin a tale we actually enjoy? We visualized these characters in our mind, giving them faces and voices. We follow them on their adventures, worry about how they’ll deal with situations, cheer when the enemy is vanquished or the hero declares his love for the heroine.
Why can’t we leave the happy ever after that comes to the imagination as well?
Short stories and novellas still need to follow basic storytelling conventions (as in having a beginning/middle/end). However, once I realized I need only write to the end of that CHAPTER of their life, suddenly the light dawned. We all have our own chapters: elementary school, high school, college if we’re so inclined, our first job, first love etc. Some are wonderful, some not so much. But every one has a beginning and an ending, however soft or abrupt it may be. Life constantly changes but it’s satisfying to know that, right now, life is good. Right now, I’m happy.
Can any of us ask for a better ending than that?