I don’t see novels ending with any real sense of closure. -Michael Ondaatje
Being a fan of romance novels has afforded me a certain luxury. And that is, getting closure. I’m not sure if I’ve read a book appropriately classified as romance, and the book didn’t leave me with the feeling that all was complete. At least complete with the main characters’ story. In other genres however, you may be left with a feeling that all hasn’t been resolved.
Of course I have stories that float about in my head that have no end in sight and if I were to write them and share them, I’m sure most of you would say huh? What happened to those people or what ever happened to the town where all of the night creatures descended upon it. I can’t just leave you with my running thoughts. I need to give you, my reader, closure. Or as close to a feeling of closure as I can get to.
As a writer, I do have a personal goal and that is to tell my story. My broader goal would be to tell a story that others would love to read. So that yes, they spend money buying my work but mostly, so that my writing is not in vain. And sometimes when readers feel like they didn’t get an ending that was satisfying, they will stop reading your work. It’s too disappointing for them.
Without closure, you will always wonder about those people or that town. You won’t move on. And some authors can’t figure out why their readers won’t let go of some of their stories or more specifically, their characters. They can’t let go. Wait, I should include myself here because I can’t let go either. Anyway, we can’t let go because you didn’t give us closure. I still wonder about some things. In your attempt to avoid the neat ending, I was left bereft. I am now yearning to understand how these people that I spent 6 reading hours getting to know, are handling their lives. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. And wait, let me say, you did a great job writing a story that made me love these people enough to still wonder about them but, I’ve got to move on. Help me.
In relationships, when you’ve reached the end, closure is usually necessary for both parties to move on completely. And I’m not saying that there will never be the lingering what ifs because not all is tidy. I’m not even saying there is no pain, there will probably be plenty of that especially if one person is clueless to the turn of events. But my point is, with closure, usually in the form of a conversation going over all the offenses and realizations, you can part. You don’t have too many what ifs, and you are not trying to figure out how you got to that point. Nope, you pretty much know it’s done no matter what you want or how much you love each other.
Same goes for the stories we read. We need to know it’s done. And yes, these people still live and they still have issues but the story itself is resolved.
I went through all of that to say. I have to figure that out for my own story. How do I end with a feeling of closure? I say “feeling of closure” because it is not really closed. These people still live on but you don’t need to worry about them so much. They are alright. I have some new people I want you to meet.
Tell me, how do you bring the feeling of closure to your character’s stories?