Monday, June 20, 2011

Beginnings and Endings

Hey, all, Jennifer here!

You know what? I JUST finished a book that took me a while to get into. You know that kind of book. The book that doesn't quite hook you in those first few pages.

Now, most of you would have probably tossed the book aside and picked up another. Not me, though.

I tend to be more patient than most readers, so I gave this author until chapter 15 (at least half the book). Yes, it's true.

But I'm glad I did! Because in the end, I really did like the book.

This made me think of a workshop that I attended by Jennifer Crusie last year.

Her workshop was on Beginnings and Endings.

Obviously as a writer, it's very important to have those two things going for you: a strong beginning and a strong ending. Duh. Otherwise, who would read your book? (I mean, besides your mother) But...

If you had to choose... which do you think weighs more heavily on a reader?
The beginning or the ending?

This is not a trick question. And there's really not a right or wrong answer. But Ms Crusie definitely has her opinion about it. I'll go out on a limb and say that I happen to agree with Crusie that your ending is more important than your beginning.

What?!!! Santa Maria! Say it isn't so!

Yes, I know! But think about this:

Scenario one: How many have of you have picked up a book, read the first 1/3 of it and loved it? Absolutely loved it! Then something happened along the way and then by the end, you wanted to throw the book up against the wall.

Got that in your mind? Ok. Would you give that author another chance?

My answer would be no.

Scenario two: How many of you picked up a book, wasn't that thrilled with the beginning but somehow decided to persevere (like me) and continue reading only to be overjoyed that you did because the rest of the book and the ending was phenomenal?

Got that? Ok. Now, would you give that author another chance?

Since this recently happened to me and I even blogged about it, my answer would be yes. I would give that author another chance if her ending satisfied me.

When I close that book, the ending is going to be in my mind for a good long time. If I get that lingering good feeling about a book well after I closed it, that author I'll remember too. But if the author knocked my socks off in the beginning only to let me down in the end, I won't be so forgiving to try another book by that author. Sad but true. Just the way my mind works.

What about you? IF you had to choose one, which do you think is more important, the BEGINNING or the ENDING of a book?


I.J. Parnham said...

If I had to choose, then I'd go for... the middle bit.

Sarita said...

I'd say the ending. If I don't like an ending I will have a hard time purchasing the next book by the author.

The beginning? I'll muddle throughto get to the good parts...that is, if there are any good parts!

Great post, Jennifer.

Joanne said...

Definitely the ending is more important to me. I'll give a book a chance to hook me in the beginning chapters, but it's always the ending that stays with me long after I've read it through.

Sandy Cody said...

I have to agree that the ending is more important. One thing I hate in a book is when the ending doesn't fit, when the author manipulates the plot to give the story a happy ending that isn't in keeping with the persona she's established for her characters. I DO like happy endings, but ...

Beate Boeker said...

Put like that, definitely the ending!

Tara said...

I'm with you - the ending has to work, or I feel like I wasted an awful lot of time.

Arlee Bird said...

Strong start, satisfactory conclusion, and a meaty middle. I'm reading a book right now that doesn't much of any of these, but I'm committed to finishing. I doubt whether I'll ever read any of the author's other books.

Tossing It Out

Elisabeth Rose said...

I'm like you, I'll persevere if the beginning doesn't particularly grab me but if I'm struggling by the middle or the whole thing has nose-dived, I'll give up. The ending must be good though! I was really disappointed by the ending of The Horse Whisperer. Totally random and unnecessary. I understand why they changed it for the movie which I thought ended much better.