By Marian Lindner
All my fiction books are juicy beach reads, fast-paced and fun. I’m a big believer in the healing properties of pulp fiction, so I deeply value a great story well told. In my experience as a voracious reader, I’ve noticed that the end of a story can be the most precarious place. Sometimes a writer who gives us a tremendous beginning and middle falters at the end. I never want to do this. I believe the conclusion MUST matter.
“If someone wrote it and it had a peculiar twist, I’ve read it.” -Dean Koontz
For me, the end is when all the secrets are revealed, when the climactic action happens and most importantly, when the twist occurs. I think a great book is one that I want to re-read immediately upon finishing. I want books to completely take me by surprise with the ending so that I understand in a new way the motivations for the characters throughout the novel. My award-winning debut novel San Francisco delivers a twist that sheds light on not only the personal relationships of the characters but also on the political figures of the time. It gave me joy to interweave these narrative threads.
“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” -Orson Welles
Since San Francisco was set against the great earthquake and fire of 1906, the story is driven by the quake and raging inferno, as the characters negotiate the shattering calamity. I ended the novel as the reconstruction of San Francisco began. Putting the ending at the point where rebuilding began seemed like a natural finish. At the beginning of the 20th century, San Francisco survived the unthinkable.
“I would rather never be published again than write a downbeat ending.” -Marian Keyes
In San Francisco I wanted an uplifting conclusion. I showcase the transformation of a carefree socialite into someone with a new appreciation for the value of life. Having gone through such a devastating experience, one of the greatest natural disasters in United States history, the heroine transforms on a profound level—as does the whole city. The novel’s ending is filled with hope.
“I don’t see novels ending with any real sense of closure.” -Michael Ondaatje
In my second novel, a thriller called The Hunt for the Lost Word, the ending comes fast and furious. I enjoyed wrapping things up quickly and I liked that the fate of the characters was clear. But I also wanted to retain some mystery, so the hero never truly understands the secrets of the Lost Word. His wife is the one who comprehends, but she doesn’t disclose with the main character. I think that type of enigma spices up a story and leaves readers intrigued.
“Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep – it can’t be done abruptly.” Colm Toibin
In my latest novel, the editor at my publishing house was beyond helpful in assisting me in crafting a masterful ending. As many writers do when writing a manuscript, I layered so much action into the ending that it would have overwhelming for readers. My phenomenal editor helped me to slow things down. With her guidance, I made three chapters out of that was only one chapter in my original draft. All the threads were tied up in that original effort, but I can’t emphasize enough how much a writer needs the support of good readers and an editor to make a book sizzle right up to the very end!
Marian Lindner is crazy-passionate about books and story. She is the author of San Francisco, which won an Honorable Mention in the Los Angeles Book Festival, The Hunt for the Lost Word, and The Witch Lineage. She also wrote the non-fiction daily-affirmation guide The Emotionally Available Partner. An editor of fiction manuscripts, she has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature and is always in search of great stories. Marian lives in California’s enchanted village of Glen Ellen with her husband, daughter, a golden-haired Chow-Chow, and two little black cats.
To buy The Witch Lineage: http://amzn.to/2gEFANR