Monday, 22 March 2010

The End?

Possible Spoilers Follow - If I Accidentally Get Carried Away

So last Mondays post was about first lines - the beginning - and today it's about endings. (I read a wonderful blog post about endings and whether they can change your perspective of the preceding story a few weeks ago. Apologies but for the life of me I cannot remember where. If it comes back to me I'll add the link here later).

Some of my favourite endings are those which HAVE changed my perspective of the overall story. My least favourite endings EVER! also changed my perspective, usually in a 'book meet wall' kind of way.

So favourites first.

I like books that make me think. I sometimes like to get to the end of the story and realise it was about something completely different to what I assumed. Or that what I thought was happening was actually something else altogether. Mainly because these are books with high re-readability.

Third book in the Sundered Quadrology (Lady of Mercy) by Michelle Sagara West is an excellent example of this. All the way through I thought there was something going on, something made me uneasy, but I put it down to my naturally suspicious nature. Then at the end, all is revealed and everything that had gone before was given a different context. It made me want to sit down and read the book again with my newfound knowledge at the forefront of my mind.

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire is another (more recent) example, though the reveal here was not quite as unexpected. It still coloured a certain characters actions in a different light.

I think this is tricky writing. Characters and plot have to be believable on the first read through but if anything they have to make more sense on the second when you're fully aware of everyone's motives.


I make this point before going onto HATED ENDINGS because I feel that the endings I dislike are usually caused by a sense that the author has cheated the reader in some way. Usually by going for a cheap shock.

My extreme example is a series where at the end of book 5 (I think), the male protagonist is killed in an almost pornographically violent way on the penultimate page of the novel. Book meet wall.

Another book I read (marketed as romance) also involved the male protagonist (who'd basically been touted as the romantic interest) being killed off in book 3 of a trilogy.

Now I am not against the death of main characters. Some of the books that have most moved me involved the death of main characters. But usually there is some sign at the beginning of the book - either through the genre or the blurb - of what you're getting into. For it to come out of the blue at the end of the story seems to me to be a cheap way to get people to talk about your book. And yes, I might talk about your book, I might blog about it. But I won't be buying any more of your books.

So - favourite endings? Hated endings? Endings which changed your perception of the story. Do you like to have your perception changed?

I have a copy of The Falconer by Elaine Clark McCarthy (be warned it's a weepy), to give away to one poster who comments on this thread. Winner to be chosen by random number on Friday (or as you know by now, possibly Saturday :) )

7 comments:

D.B.Reynolds said...

My biggest pet peeve in hated endings is when the author betrays the character him/herself! I read a series of three books recently by an author I won't name. She created this wonderful character, maintaining her through the first two books and into the third, and then she did a complete 180! She took an independent, courageous, kick-ass heroine and turned her into a timid housewife!!!! I'm all for a HEA ending, but I felt totally betrayed by what she did and will never read another book by this author!

Okay. Stepping off my soapbox now. LOL

DBR

Chris said...

Not entering the contest (but I'll mention it Thursday!). Hmm. I have a lot of ending peeves. :)

Too-abrupt endings are annoying, particularly when an extremely complicated plot issue is resolved in a paragraph or two.

Killing off a main, beloved character can get me, too - I'll never read Kim Harrison again because I'm still bitter about that one!

Not resolving one or more main plots by the ending drives me batty.

Um, I'll stop now...

Angiegirl said...

Okay, you spawned my own post on the topic. So many endings to ponder...

LesleyW said...

DBR - I think betraying a character has to rank in the top three of bad endings. And is definitely one of the things that will stop me reading an author.

Chris - I'm also with you on the killing of beloved characters. It takes a great writer to pull it off and hold you as a reader. And I think it is partly connected to what DBR said, as a reader you shouldn't feel that the character has been betrayed.

And I hate when you're coming to the ending of a book and counting down the pages and knowing that the author is going to have to wrap the story up in 20 pages.

LesleyW said...

Angie - glad I inspired you. :)

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

Wow. Please DONT enter me in the contest. I already own and LOVE this book... so nice to see and oldie but goodie! I'm gonna add you to my post for today ;)

A for pet peeves, I just finished a short story last night that burned me... an all of the sudden HEA... blah!

Miranda ~ Sweet Vernal Zephyr

LesleyW said...

Miranda - Yeah, the too quick HEA can be just as unsatisfying. The idea that everything ends up tied in a pretty pink bow just because it comes across that the author feels it should rather than it coming from the plot and characters.