I once lamented about where all the endings–


[btw… this is an interlude between emails – I have your email and somewhere between now and that first icicle forming in hell, I promise to answer it! I swear!]

Where have all the endings gone?

My first post in January makes mention of the avant garde, literary coolness of leaving a big chunk of ending off your story, or else just writing something that peters off into dust. Some people can get away with this. Few, in fact, but hey.

But now, I’m not so sure. I’ve had the privilege of sifting through the slush to an upcoming project and shiver-me-timbers if some of those stories weren’t amongst the very best horror short stories I’ve ever read. Correction: A 95% portion of those outstanding stories were shit hot. Then something began to unravel.

I was reading one brilliant story, scribbling YES! in the margins, when, in an awful case of dangling participles gone feral, the whole climax and denouement was left off. Not just skimmed over, but left out altogether. I checked to see if this was the completed ms – it was. It was heartbreaking! It was like making the most sensual love of a lifetime (metaphorically) and then my partner tosses me a fifty dollar bill as the climax was reached. Holy cheapening effect, Batman!

I still marked the story as a yes, but I grumbled with gritted teeth.

Same thing happened to me not once, but three more times! Each is destined to be an acceptance to this project, but damnation the conclusions were frustrating! And not awful by any stretch, now I think about it. Just MIA. Each had that dangling feel, like the author didn’t know how to finish it.

That thought makes a lot of sense to me: the author didn’t know how to finish it.

These stories were all exceptional. Brilliant! I’m not usually easily impressed, but I pegged two to be awards finalists. I can tell a good story because it always makes me wish I’d written the piece – then I feel like I should take myself away and write something just as good. So these stories elicited that reaction in me. So, I think perhaps the authors in question just couldn’t quite sustain the brilliance for that extra couple of pages. I can understand this much more than intentionally literary wankification.

The good thing is the brilliant-but-MIA-ending stories can be fixed. The wanky new weird ones can’t. In my book, there is nothing more powerful than a good circular story. The end resonates with the beginning and serves to make it all the more memorable.