Every story needs to end


I recently read a collection of short stories and hated almost every minute of it. If they were so bad, you ask, why didn’t I just close the book and move on? That’s a question for a different post. So, I finished the collection with my hate in tact because most of the stories didn’t have a resolution.


Many things drive me wild, but lack of resolution in a story drives me wilder. What is it with these writers? They get to the next to the last paragraph or the next-to-the-next last one and stop. The reader (me) is left thinking – oops, maybe they accidentally printed the draft or ran out of ink. But no, it’s supposed to be that way – very cool and artsy. There is no end to the story.


Author, why do you feel compelled to leave me hanging? Do all these unanswered questions and possibilities reflect some kind of existential angst based on your philosophical underpinnings? Author, unpin thyself from this philosophy.


I just want an ending to the story all right already. Step by step (often through misplaced cow pies) the writer brings the reader (me again) up to what I think is the last door opening into a room where I will come face to face with the Resolution, who always looks taller in person. (Of course, I have to stop and clean off my shoes because of those cow pies.) Mr. or Ms. Author opens the door slightly, and then says, go down that hallway and pick another door. And every one of those doors says “Exit.” When I turn around, the author is gone. Wait, I call out, come back! Sometimes I call very loudly, which disturbs my husband.


Stories have beginnings, middles, and ends. Remember all those cartoons we watched as kids? When the action was done, two little words appeared: The end. We learned that a story – always the same one, Sylvester the Cat or Wily Coyote being creamed, diced, or sliced in any number of satisfying ways – began, something happened, and then ended satisfactorily for Tweety Bird and the Road Runner and gloriously unsatisfactorily for the bullies.


Haven’t any of these writers read any fairy tales? How about Shakespeare?  Good guys don’t always win, but somebody does, or it’s a draw and it’s clear. When you get to the end of the story you know it. You may not like it, or may wish it were different, but you know it is the end.


That’s all, folks.


26 thoughts on “Every story needs to end

  1. Perhaps it is the thing to do today. Remember the “Sopranos” that ending nearly drove me insane. Loved the show, until the finale made me so angry, that I wished that I didn’t. Thanks for bringing that back to the fore..lol

  2. winsomebella

    Agreed. I have been in movie theaters and heard a collective groan when the audience is disappointed, not with the ending, but the lack thereof. It feels almost as if you’ve wasted your time reading a book or watching a movie that has no proper ending.

  3. It seems rather dramatic to do this in a short story. Like you said above, in novels and films where there is the possibility of a sequel, it becomes acceptable, but if it’s a short story, it just seems lazy and immature. I’m surprised it was even published D: Perhaps the style in which it was written was good and it provided us with lovable characters – but doesn’t that make the ending letdown even more devastating? Surely an author would realise the importance of the conclusion and possible catharsis? Asdfghjkjhgfdsasdfgh I’m glad I wasn’t the victim of this one ahaha :>

  4. riatarded

    Yes! Stories needs to have an end! I HATE HATE HATE it when authors leave the stories hanging.
    I absolutely love the extra chapter in some books which fast forwards the plot a couple of years and tells you what the characters are up to!

  5. kkkkatie

    Okay…I’d love to take credit for your writing, but you’ll remember it was the ground that broke your arm, not moi. I will, however, accept accolades (or better yet, wine) for providing you with some great material.

    As for those ending-impaired writers, I say we ship them all to Iraq or Afghanistan and tell them they can’t come back until the conflict ends. They like unresolved conflict so much, let them live with one that will never be over.

  6. Those who deliberately leave me hanging deserve a return of the favor. Though I’m not in favor of capital punishment in reality I do rather like the idea of seeing some irritating writer or filmmaker dangling uneasily for a bit, if only in a decidedly cartoonlike and fictional way, for ticking me off like that. 😉

  7. hello, ms. year-stricken… am back here to look for your old writing about writing, hehe. am thinking of reblogging the same. i hope it’s alright… 🙂

    if not, i’ll just take my chance, whehe. please say it’s okay, ma’am. btw, i like your site’s new theme. it’s easier to have a look around. happy midweek… 🙂 ~ san

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