Alternate endings

When writing short stories or poems, I rarely know the story when I first begin writing. Often it’s just a vague idea or situation I picture, which I then develop upon as I write. Sometimes I realise what my primary plot-line will be, sometimes I think of an ending that I like and write towards achieving that. It all honestly quite depends on my brain as I write.

The hardest choice, though, I often find, is the very ending. Very often, there are two entirely different yet both completely suitable endings that you could write, and as your brain envisions both, you’re struck with options. Perhaps if the character did this, they’d end up happy, but the very slightest change could land them in tragedy. Perhaps what the character does makes no difference to their outcome, but as the almighty author you have the opportunity to change their fate by typing just a few words. It’s only a fictional world I know, yet this power that lies in the hands of the author can often be truly awe-inspiring.

One simple example I can give for this, which I personally faced a little while ago, was when writing the poem Please, Just One Last Kiss. I’ve linked to it here, so do check it out before you read further.

When I originally wrote the poem, the final stanza was very different. It read as follows:

She watched the news daily
Awaited letters or a call
Her heart beat faster out of fear
Whenever a bomb did fall
Till at last, the day arrived
When he returned to her
Please, no more last kisses,
She pleaded, letting loose a tear.

As you see, there are minimal lines changed, yet the entire poem changes. Some may prefer this, some may believe the one I used gave it more effect (Into which category do you fall? Let me know what you thought.) and some may think that either would have worked as well. Personally, I can’t deny a sort of satisfaction that I feel from creating something that truly makes the reader feel sad, and that’s why I stuck with the one I did.

Endings can do so much – they can serve as ultimate forte climaxes to a story as it crescendo‘s it’s way up, they can give closure and settle a story that has had extreme highs and lows, and if badly done, they can also kill a story that had built up too high and then just crashed. When writing a short story especially, endings are very often the key to the perfect tale, as they can provide the twist, deliver the shock, and pack the biggest punch.

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