I have realised there’s another aspect of writing that I find challenging. Not that it’s difficult, just that I’m not very good at it. That is: writing the end. With Spiritus I had numerous comments of ‘that’s rather an abrupt end’. With the current short story, I’m having trouble wrapping up all the threads into a satisfying crescendo. With the next book, Animus, I haven’t got a clue where to stop the action.
In part, I suspect this is because endings seem unreal to me. History doesn’t have a stop point, happily ever after doesn’t actually cover the details of ‘after’, and there’s always something more to come. Bringing a story to a close just doesn’t feel realistic. And yes, okay, talking about realism in a setting with magic and goblins seems ridiculous, but this isn’t a question of suspension of disbelief in fantasy. It’s asking for a suspension of disbelief in how people work. People don’t stop just because they’ve reached an appropriately dramatic moment in time!
I don’t think I’m alone in having trouble with this, to be honest. The fantasy literary market in particular is littered with ongoing series of books. Is it something about the genre that makes people want to keep on telling what happened next? With all that effort invested in building worlds and societies, perhaps fantasy writers think more about the ramifications of the initial events on this set-up.
Short stories are probably the best way to study the technique of endings, since they have to achieve the same culmination but with much less lead-up. Plus, of course, you have far more endings to study in a short story anthology. This is the first time I’ve approached reading with a conscious intent to dissect the technique. It’ll be interesting to see how it affects the way I see the story!