Do stories really have to end?

The end of a story should make people feel something more than they understood – Hemingway

Here is the way most writers work.

Their imagination conjures up a story.

They write an opening.

Then they race hell bent for leather toward the final paragraph.

Every story has to go somewhere.

Every story has “The End” attached.

Or does it?

So many writers feel as if they need to tidy everything up at end of a book and make sure there are no loose ends hanging around.

People live.

They die.

They live happily ever after.

Their dreams come true.

Writers believe that need to take a long trip, come home, and leave their car in the garage when their travels are done.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s probably the best way to write.

I know it’s the safest way to write.

But is that life?

Our lives are filled with stories, but are any of them actually resolved at the end of the day?

Mine aren’t.

I have long been influenced by the works of Ernest Hemingway.

I don’t always like his stories.

But I do love the way he puts them together.

Hemingway was once talking about wrapping up a story, and I never forgot his words.

He said: It was a very simple story called “Out of Season” and I had omitted the real end of it which was that the old man hanged himself. This was omitted on my new theory that you could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood.

I thought it was genius.

That was his secret: Make people feel something more than they understood.

Hemingway didn’t particularly park his car in the driveway when his travels were over.

He parked it beside a long open road.

Was the journey finished?


Were there still miles to go?


Hemingway allowed the reader to become part of the story.

He triggered a reader’s imagination.

And the reader could write his or her own ending.

I try to do that when I write my own novels.

For example, when I finished Night Side of Dark, these were my final paragraphs:

He waited until the painting, the Night Side of Dark, once described as the world’s most valuable piece of art, turned an ashen gray and scattered like dust and powder into the cinders, then he crawled with Devra through the broken window and dropped into the snow.

It was cold against his fevered skin.

As he stood, Lincoln allowed himself one final glance back into the room.

The Night Side of Dark had become as dark as a night that had no ending and no beginning, and Lincoln was like the night. If morning came, it would be a miracle.

For me, at that moment, there was nothing left to say.

There was nothing else to write.

Did Lincoln survive?

Did the German army find him?

Did he escape a war-torn city?

Where did he go?

And did the girl go with him?

Or was he abandoned in the snow?

I wrote what I could.

I’ll let the reader crawl into his or her own imagination and write the rest.

Then again, maybe they will simply wait for the sequel.

Please click HERE to find Night Side of Dark on Amazon.

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