Category Archives: Bluenose Paradox

The End is Near! Sort-Of…

At one of the panels for Avalon Expo, someone asked “How do you know when to end a story?”

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I’ve had time to think about it and I thought I’d share some of my current musings. This is especially relevant since the big project I’m working on has spun so far out of control that I have no idea how it’s going to end…  Or if

Honestly, this advice is for me as much as you.

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So, how do I know when to end a story?

Short answer: Mostly intuition.

Long answer: There are a few ways…

  1. I’ve written the ending first.

Usually I know the end before I even start writing. Most of my short stories start out with that final moment, and then I just have to figure out what happens to bring me to that point.  It happened with The Gemini ProjectThe Invisible Boy; and the two horror stories I’m currently working on.

There were a few times where, when I got to the end of a longer story, I realized that the original idea no longer fit and it was going towards a new ending. But that’s not a bad thing – stories change, it happens. Sometimes you plan on killing all of your characters but a few of them end up surviving somehow. But then you write the final line (for the new ending) and you think to yourself “Yeah, that’s a fantastic ending line”. And all is right with the world again.

  1. I’ve written a really good end-line.

I love a good ending line as much as I love a good opening line. In fact, if I write a so-so ending line it bothers me to no end, because I know it can be better. It’s like looking at a row of pencils that aren’t quite perfectly in line….

Some examples are: Virginia Wolfe’s To the Lighthouse: “Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.” And George Orwell’s 1984:He loved Big Brother.” There’s something about those lines that are so final and yet mean so much more.

  1. The story I wanted to tell is over.

Once I wanted a project to have 25 chapters (for symbolic purposes), but when I reached the end of chapter 22 I realized that I was done. My character’s journey had ended. I’d said all I wanted to say about this particular story, and to write any more would do a disservice to the fantastic ending scene I’d just written. Yes, I wanted to continue with these characters, but I knew that it would be best to start a new plot, with new themes and ideas, instead of dragging this one out.

The Hobbit ends when Bilbo returns home; The Fellowship of the Rings ends with the breaking of the fellowship; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ends when Harry’s school term ends.  Even though their stories continue, their current task has ended and it’s time to take a breather before the next adventure.

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Typically, when I plan my ending, I try to resolve matters – either for better or worse. I don’t like leaving huge plot holes or dangling plot threads. It’s fun to have hints and intrigue and something to look forward to, but I’m not happy when the ending to a book is more like the ending to a chapter (yes, there’s a difference – As Fierce As Steel left me wanting more, while Mindspeak made me regret the time I’d spent reading it).

When in doubt, I think of who’s journey this is. Then I try to find a way to bring them to the end point – to let the character finally achieve their goal, or fail horribly, or realize that they need to change their way of thinking.

Originally, I had no idea how to end The Six Elemental. I tried to resolve what I could, while leaving certain things unsaid, but the end just didn’t feel end-y enough.  Finally I thought about Kit’s journey and how she had changed over the course of the story.  I thought about what I was trying to say with this story and made that the ending, so when people close the book that’s the impression they’re left with.

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And with that, I return once more into the void from which I came…

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‘The Six Elemental’ author Ali House returns for Fantasy from the Rock!

the-six-elemental_fireworksAli House, whose first novel The Six Elemental started Engen’s spectacular tenth year anniversary in October 2016, is returning to the From the Rock collection series in Fantasy from the Rock with two all-new short stories, “The Invisible Boy” and “Honor.”

Ali’s 2016 collection entry, “Twenty-One” was heralded as one of the gems of the collection and led to a novel based on the concept and characters later that same year.

“Some good Young Adult fiction is set up here, with something that pulls at my personal heartstrings. [The Six Elemental] is another book I must pick up when it comes out.” — Sam Bauer, author of ‘The Locket.’ Continue reading ‘The Six Elemental’ author Ali House returns for Fantasy from the Rock!

New Engen Author: Alison House

Alison House
Alison House

Alison House is a compulsive writer, traveler, and reader.

She is also a fan of the Oxford comma. A native Newfoundlander, Alison is a graduate of the Fine Arts program at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College (MUN).

She currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she works in arts administration and spends more time than a person should in and around theaters.

Ali wrote the shorts The Gemini Project and Second Life, both of which were printed in Bluenose Paradox, released November 8th at Hal-Con 2013.

“She’s a great Newfoundland author with a bright future,” said Engen founder Matthew LeDrew. “She’s also nowhere near as mean as she looks in this picture.”

Alison dealt the first Engen Universe poker game after the Stargazer Soiree on Saturday night and has been in talks with Ellen Curtis regarding an unknown project since.