Faber Session 5 – Starting A Story….And Ending It

Went up to Bloomsbury a little bit earlier today as I wanted to buy a present. So it was nice to be able to walk through Bloomsbury Square in the day light! πŸ™‚


A quick stop off in the BM to make my purchase and spotted this…..

There’s a Shakespeare exhibition on at the moment and this display of cut out houses is on the floor in the main court of the museum.

Anyway, back to class πŸ™‚

Tonight’s session was about beginnings and endings. We talked about starting being the hardest part and one of the other students mentioned the “toxic 10” for runners. If you’re into running you’ll know exactly what this means. It’s that first 10 minutes where you’re cussing and cursing and wondering what the hell you’re doing….once you get past that it gets easier. It’s exactly the same for writers, and knowing where to start in your story can be tricky. I don’t think I’m that bad at starting, I just kind of jump in lol. Tim suggested that we play on our writing strengths in the first chapter, whatever aspect of writing we’re good at, make sure we include a lot of it πŸ™‚

But endings….woah! That’s a whole different ball game for me. Endings should be emotionally satisfying, regardless of whether there’s a happy ending or not. Yeah, I’d agree with that! I’m forever moaning about the Anne Tyler book I read earlier this year, where a down trodden woman who’s husband, quite frankly, is a git, walks away, builds a new happy life. But at the end of the book she goes back to her boring mundane life with the husband who treats her like a skivvy….WTF?

I don’t want my book to be the type of book the reader throws across the room at the end. I want them to feel satisfied. So I guess I’ve really got my work cut out. The last chapter is my chance to tie up the loose ends. To have a resolution to the story. My biggest decision is whether to have that ending a happy one, or just a satisfying one. Should the villain turn over a new leaf? Or does the heroine walk off into the sunset, alone, but happy? Decisions decisions *bites finger nails*

Do you prefer a happy ending or don’t you mind as long as its satisfying?

33 thoughts on “Faber Session 5 – Starting A Story….And Ending It

  1. An ending doesn’t necessarily need to be happy to be good. If it’s a darker book sometimes I fully expect the ending to be sad, or bittersweet. Things don’t always work out well in the end of everything. Sometimes the hero fails, or even dies.


  2. My favorite kind of endings are the ones I didn’t see coming, but that I can see fit the story, and the theme, perfectly. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re happy or sad, but they have to fit!
    Those don’t come along very often IMO. Nothing worse than botched ending to an otherwise great story!


  3. Ladder of Years! I love that book, but I also hate the ending!!! The moment when she walks off is a defining moment of fiction for me (interestingly slow start to build up to it, though) but every time I read it, I wish for a different ending. How could she just leave that new family? So frustrating, I feel your pain.
    Anyway, I’ve realised recently that I’m quite good at writing beginnings and endings – it’s just the bit in between I struggle with πŸ˜‰ xxx


    • Ha ha ha….it wasn’t just me then Jo! I mean honestly, would you have gone back? Grrrrrrr! I don’t want to write a book like that!!!!! πŸ˜‰

      Lol….ahhhhh, you suffer from saggy middle yeah? Me, I have saggy bottom lol πŸ™‚



  4. Oh, I’m going to check out Shakespeare – thanks for mentioning that. I’m not a fan of really sugary happy endings, but I do agree with the majority that it has to make sense. I hate getting to the end of a book and feeling cheated because it feels like teh author has been hiding something, or that the charatcer has done an unexplained U-turn


    • Oh definitely Debbie! I hate it when it doesn’t make sense!

      I was told once by a writer I really respect, that my endings are predictable *slump* and THAT’S what I’m trying to get over lol. I’ve thought about doing an unexpected U Turn with my villain, but on,y because I want him to turn out good *snigger* πŸ˜‰ I do have a tendency to live in Vikki’s world where everyone is nice 😦



  5. Chris (the first to make a comment) has taken the words from my keypad. I’d add one thing. I think in popular novels, there needs to be some measure of hope at the end. Even if it’s added in an epilogue.


  6. Hi all – I really enjoy exploring endings – much more fun than starting! Like putting in the last pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. I recently read a great post about writing endings on the blog Live Write Thrive

    When I teach story writing workshops I often get my students to start with the ending FIRST. This often baffles them, but we then work on the start, the connecting middle session and go back to the ending. And often write an alternative one. There are so many possible endings, as there are beginnings, in life and writing and we sometimes find in the workshops that what we thought was a great ending is actually a perfect start! Hope this makes sense and is helpful.

    Ref the running – I had not heard about the “toxic10” – thank goodness it’s not me, then. I started running last year and really find that first 10 minutes awful, and the time when I just want to give up. Sometimes I break through and on bad days I wimp out and rest! A bit like my writing…


    • Thanks Jane πŸ™‚ I saw that article recently, it’s very good πŸ™‚

      It doesn’t seem to matter how much advice I receive about endings, I still can’t come up with one for my novel lol πŸ˜‰

      Yeah, I was reading Richard Skinners book “Fiction Writing” a couple of days ago and he said about writing the beginning and end and the filling in the middle. I’ve kind of done that with this years Nano, but the novel I’m trying to finish is 65,000 words in already 😦

      I’d never heard of the toxic 10 either, but then, I do as little exercise as possible πŸ˜‰



  7. I don’t insist on a happy ending, but I do like a satisfying ending – whether that means happy for the characters in the short term or the right thing happening for the long-term. I’ve been known to throw the odd book across the room if the ending is disappointing!


  8. I didn’t know that was called the toxic 10 but I know exactly what that means.

    I prefer and ending to make sense in the context of the story. It does not have to be happy or sad. Sometimes I want a happy ending and get a sad one, but deep down I know it is the right one. That is when you know the ending works.


  9. Vicki, when my son was a teenager he believed that all “classic” literature was meant to be depressing. Even the modern American classics depressed him. “Why did he have to kill the baby?” (The Pearl, by Steinbeck) … and then he discovered fantasy fiction where good usually vanquishes evil … then his mom began writing genre fiction where … honestly … I like a hopeful if not always HEA ending. It’s like music. If you need to be cheered up, German opera might not be a good choice. Goth 80’s might be a bit off-putting. Want to feel good? Play happy music. I guess I tend to love happy music but don’t mind an occasional jolt of reality with the low down melody of blues πŸ™‚


  10. Prefer a happy ending but as long as it fits really, sometimes endings seem a bit rushed, just sort of stuck on the end!

    I quite like the fact that I have done some planning on my nano this year so I can go in and write a piece towards the end depending on my mood. Im just bumping off my villan at the moment!


  11. I’m a HEA gal all the way. A friend of mine said the difference between literary and genre fiction was: In literary fiction, Life sucks and then you die. In genre fiction, Life sucks and then gets better. I’ve never come across a more succinct definition.


  12. I love happy endings, but I do like to get to my happy ending without rushing. Read a book the other week, and I felt cheated that the writer rushed to the end. Yes the ending was happy, but I still felt something was missing 😦


  13. Thanks for posting this, it’s one of my bugbears. I find most novels (and I do mean most) rush the ending, its like the author knows they’re contracted to write X amount of words and as that target approaches they wrap everything up in a couple of clumsy pages.

    I don’t like all the loose ends to be neatly tidied up. I know its all down to personal taste but for me I’d rather put a book down and wonder what’s happening to those people, what did they do next? The best example of this I’ve read recently is the excellent Piano Teacher by Y K Lee, without giving too much away, its not quite a happy ending, more the end of an era. I still think about it and I read it months ago.

    When everything is neatly finished off it just feels too much like a fairytale ending and for my tastes it just comes across as lazy.


  14. Similar to what Chris’ said above, an ending does not need to be happy all the time. As long as it captures the heart and gives strong emotion to the readers, then that is fine by me.

    As with me, sometimes I try to end a love story with both lovers being dead. In this way, strong emotion has been imparted to the readers.


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