Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sticking the Landing

It was 1984. An eight-year-old me watched with bated breath as Mary Lou Retton seemed to defy gravity itself and scored two perfect 10's for her vaults in the Summer Olympics. I cheered along with the rest of the country for the little hero who could. Her performances gave us all a surge of joy, of hope that we too could aspire to great things. She made us forget for a time (not that I ever thought much of it back then) about the wobbling economy and the threat of nuclear war.

And, if there was one thing that girl could do, it was sticking her landing. A perfect ending. An applause-inspiring summation to a great show.

I struggle with endings. By the end of a story, I don't know if I'm tired of challenging my characters, or if I feel sorry for them because they've been through so much strife. But, more often than not, my endings are rushed. In my hurry to get to "happily ever after", I sometimes leave my readers saying, "Wait a minute, that was too easy" or "But what happened to so-and-so?"

Just one weakness out of many for me, but if I don't stick that landing and wrap up my endings so that my readers can snap the book shut with a feeling of warm satisfaction, then I haven't done my job as a writer. I haven't scored my perfect 10 and sent the crowd to its feet.

Where do you struggle as a writer? What keeps you from the perfect 10?


  1. Narration. Whenever the action start to crank up, I found myself going into narrator mode rather than keeping the strong POV.

    Motivation. Convincing my characters that they should do what I want them to. I have resorted to the character interviews as a device to get inside their heads. I feel weird doing it, though.

    I think I have managed to tie up the loose threads in the ending of my story, or at least, I have the plans laid out to do so. I guess I will find out when you get there.

  2. Endings are the hardest for me too. All those plot threads have to come together. I know what you mean. I also like the comparison you have here to sticking the landing.


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