I’ve been working on a science fiction short story for the “Write Michigan” contest. About a month ago I finished a draft of the story and sent it to a friend of mine who is a copy editor at Zondervan. In addition to his professional editorial skills, my friend is also a published poet and loves to read and write truly “literary” works. He was the perfect candidate to read and critique my story. When I gave him the manuscript I told him that I was particularly unsure about the ending.
Last week I had lunch with him to discuss how I can improve the story. I expected him to tear the whole thing apart. Honestly, I thought he would tell me it was total junk. I was thrilled to find out that he liked all of the basic story elements, and most importantly, that my protagonist was intriguing.
Here’s what he said that I’ve been mulling over since our meeting: “You’ve got to earn your ending.”
When I asked him to clarify he said something along the lines of: “You’ve got to put your character through more trials before you can wrap it up. The story was actually too short. Your ending was okay, but I felt robbed. You didn’t show me the character working through the issue enough before it was all over. You need to show him struggle more.”
During this lunch I shared with him the premise of another sci-fi short I’ve been working on. I told him I was struggling with the ending to that one too. After listening to my description of the action and how I planned to end it he just nodded and said, “You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to put your character through more trials.”
Have you ever struggled with the ending to one of your stories? What did you do to eventually find resolution?