Please welcome back Densie Webb whose first novel is You’ll Be Thinking of Me. Densie is currently working on novels two and three, and she’s also a nonfiction writer/editor, mainly about health and nutrition. She has written for The New York Times, Parade, been a columnist for Prevention, Family Circle and now writes for industry and trade organizations. She added fiction to the mix about six years ago and never looked back. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, SheWrites, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Romance Writers of America. She’s a music lover, walker (not of the dead variety), dreamer, warm-weather enthusiast, and has now acquired all of the usual writer quirks, including the uncontrollable urge to write about people and things that live only in her head. Connect with Densie on Facebook and on Twitter.
Does Your Novel Have a Ta-Da Ending?
The opening lines of your novel are arguably the most important words you will write on the path to publication. Those words are what catch an agent’s eye, a publisher’s eye and ultimately the eye of your readers. Their importance is evidenced by the plethora of contests that ask you to submit the first 250 words, the first 500 words or maybe the first couple of pages. In fact, Writer Unboxed’s own Ray Rhamey has Flogging the Quill, where he asks if, after reading the opening lines, you would place your bet on the table and turn the page. No doubt, opening lines are important. There are no second chances, as they say, for making a first impression.
Much less focus seems to be placed on the ending of a novel. To be fair, you can’t critique the last few lines of a book if you don’t know everything that came before. But here’s my thought: The opening may get you to turn the first page, but it’s the ending that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page. And, I believe it’s the bittersweet, heartrending endings that stay with you the longest, haunt you, leave you with an insistent unnamed yearning. It won’t let you forget. And isn’t that what we all want from readers—to remember our words long after they’ve turned that last page?
The importance of endings was never more clear to me than recently when one of my all-time favorite post-apocalyptic movies (and I’ve seen a lot), I Am Legend starring Will Smith, was available on Netflix and I gave in to the urge to watch it “just one more time.” A director’s cut was available and I began streaming, expecting the same movie, with a few extended scenes or additional scenes that had ended up on the cutting room floor. What I got was a totally different ending. And I walked away with a totally different feeling. Warning: If you haven’t seen the movie, there are spoilers ahead. [Read more…]