Endings Keep Running Away From Me

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I use Gram­marly for eng­lish proof­read­ing because if I didn’t you’d be read­ing this post in Mar­t­ian.

I’ve been work­ing on a sto­ry for near­ly three weeks now and I’ve hit a wall.

It start­ed with a char­ac­ter I cre­at­ed a few months ago for anoth­er project. Her name is One, which is short for One­sipho­rus. She has a dilem­ma. She’s come into pos­ses­sion of a book and that book is for­bid­den. I fol­lowed her through her day to day life. I’ve got­ten into her head and heard her thoughts. I under­stand her. I’ve giv­en her some­thing to sac­ri­fice and fight for. I’ve chal­lenged her cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. I like her.

I had a vision when I start­ed this short sto­ry (an off-shoot of my cur­rent nov­el length WIP) of where she would end up. In my vision, One is look­ing out over the walls of her city into the vast bar­ren plains that con­sti­tute the hin­ter­lands. She is con­tem­plat­ing self-exile.
The vision ends there. I’m not cer­tain how she gets to this place or how things went so bad­ly. I real­ized that the end­ing, in par­tic­u­lar the jour­ney my char­ac­ter trav­els to get to the end, eludes me.

End­ings, no mat­ter the sto­ry, elude me. I almost always know where I want my pro­tag­o­nists to be in the end, but the just before is this mys­te­ri­ous place I can’t seem to get to. It scares me too because this is part of my craft, a huge part of what I want to do and some­how I feel like I’ve run into a wall every sin­gle time

I had such dif­fi­cul­ty when it came to the end­ing of An Unpro­duc­tive Woman. AUW came to me in effort­less lin­ear waves. There was nev­er a moment when I felt stuck, when I had to go back and fill in any gaps. And I did this all with­out an out­line. But when it came to the end­ing, I choked. And this is evi­dent in the reviews that AUW receives. Some of those reviews site an unsat­is­fac­to­ry end­ing.

How do you know when a sto­ry is fin­ished? What con­sti­tutes a sat­is­fac­to­ry end­ing to you?