Writing “The End”

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I imagine all artists – writers, painters, composers – come to a place in their work when they (in one form or another) jot down those two words: “The End.”

Naturally, the end of a first draft isn’t the END. There are months of rewrites and edits ahead. The collection of words I’ve tallied up on my laptop is still a work-in-progress.

But the story is done. The plot has wrapped up. The characters have completed their arcs and in some cases have died. Even my happy endings don’t come without pain, suffering, and loss. They are always bittersweet.

When I write “The End,” it’s emotional. As I scribble this post, days after penning that last line, my eyes gloss with feeling. And there’s no single reason.

“The End” comes with a sigh of relief and a wish to tell someone the powerful news. It’s a milestone. More than a year’s creative work coming to its conclusion.

But, for me, there’s also an odd sense of grief. I don’t know what to do with myself.  I’m restless. My sense of time shifts; my focus suddenly flutters away. I can’t sit, can’t move on. The story that consumed my thoughts and hours is over. The pressure to write, to capture my characters’ thoughts and hearts and sacrifices before they slip away, dissipates. I know the story now from the beginning to the end. The characters I have lived with and come to love have nothing more to say to me. They journey into their futures without me. Inside my head, I’m… alone.

Writing is, for many, an emotional undertaking. I’ve felt this way with every first draft.

I finished my first draft on November 18th with an additional 26,722 words. My NaNoWriMo challenge is done. I’m grieving.

And prepping for the less intense application of my craft.

Do you have any emotional reaction to writing “The End?” I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

217 thoughts on “Writing “The End”

  1. Rajveer Nair says:

    Very nicely penned down, I enjoyed reading it. If you want to read some nature dedicated poems, check out my blog- https://bloomingthoughts.home.blog
    And keep up the good work

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Complete and utter relief. The story in its wider sense was complete, although as you said, there was still a LOT of revision to do, but at least A > B was accomplished!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s definitely some relief in there, yes! A giant, “Phew!” I’m in the midst of the tediousness of editing and no longer feel that sadness of the story being over. Now, I can’t wait for it to be over. Lol. Thanks for the visit and comment, Mike. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ERCWriting says:

    I absolutely know what you mean. Great post. I have recently switched from a focus in marketing to storytelling in general. I’ve always written short stories for myself, but never felt comfortable showing them. The reason is that I grew too emotionally connected with the characters, with the story – to the point that I felt they were living only for me.

    I’ve had trouble explaining to people why fiction is so exhausting – but it’s the conflict that you’re absorbed in every day, conflicts you’ve created for characters you love. It’s like you feel cruel and heartless for putting these people through so much. That is, until you write “The End”, when all that struggle is given purpose and the end of the gyres is reached.

    I’m writing my second novel now (20,000 words in), eagerly looking forward to that End, while desperately struggling to mark down the poor main character’s problems.

    Like

  4. Amy says:

    I think I get this grief whenever I finish anything! It’s good to know that it’s no weird thing to feel that way at the end of an adventure.

    But I think there always has to be an end. And you have to end it while the story’s still strong. That way the grief you feel will be the grief the reader will one day share with you. Too many stories lose that impact by carrying on and on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comment, Amy. I totally agree. Knowing when to write “the end” and having the courage to let it rest is vital. There are lots of stories that not only drag for paragraphs and pages, but end up with a sequel, when they really shouldn’t! Thanks for the visit! Have a wonderful day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The End is always terrible. It’s like a friend dies. The thing is there must be an end. Life is mundane and all stories are finite. So the best to fight an end is to already have a beginning to fall back on

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great advice. Fortunately, by the time I actually publish, I’m so ready for the thing to end that I can’t say goodbye fast enough! Lol. And I’ve new beginnings rolling around in my head. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanh Dinh says:

      It is so very true. I spend a whole year on my novel’s first draft, and it was finally finished in August 2019. But then, whenever I see a relevant incident in my life, I just keep thinking, “What will my characters do if they are in the same situation?” or a simple “This would fit right in with the plot.” Even now, when I decide to start a new journey, I still have a lingering feeling for those 2 dorky fictional characters I create haha.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I think when we create characters and live with them a long time (so intimately) that it’s no different than if they were real people. It’s hard to say goodbye. Who knows? Perhaps your dorky characters will show up again. Happy Writing!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanh Dinh says:

          Indeed! They are like my children, and I am a doting parent who refuses to let the children leave my home lol but that is also the most fatal trap for a writer: the next characters they create might be significantly similar to their previous characters, and the readers won’t like that (that’s also the main reason I stopped reading Haruki Murakami’s works).

          Liked by 1 person

  6. A. Perveen says:

    Great article! And oh, yes, I do often have an emotional reaction to the “The End.” It’s both, a stage you want to reach as well as a dreaded phrase, isn’t it? Kind of bittersweet in taste and feel.

    One thing that has helped immensely though is writing short pieces for my blog. Quick short stories and snippets that just keep my writing muscles moving. It’s still a pang to say goodbye of course. Doesn’t matter if you’ve spent a day or a year with the characters, the loss is just the same. But these quick stories help.
    Make it easy to move on, if that makes sense.

    Have a great writing week! As one writer to another, I hope you’ll check out my newest story and let m e know your thoughts. Leaving the link below for your convenience. 🙂💜

    https://saraabesukhan.com/unsigned-love-letters-in-the-memory-of-loving/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I agree. The short pieces aren’t as hard to say goodbye too. I wrote one this morning that I’ll post tomorrow. Easy. My current WIP trilogy will have been with me for two years by the time I hit the publish button. That one will be tough! Thanks so much for the visit and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oddly enough, I have never wrote the end to any of my stories, that I can remember…I guess, it’s a way for me to leave them open. Just in case I decide to go back and add more. The end is like saying good bye and that is always a hard thing for me to do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re not the only one who hasn’t written “the end.” I think you might be right. There’s a finality to it. My characters go on living their lives in my head, but I do let them go in terms of telling their stories. It’s always a sad moment. 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by and Happy Weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve only written one book so far (called Chloe) and I self published it in December 2019. When I felt the story end part of me wondered if I should maybe write another chapter or two since it was only 30,000 words. I felt almost afraid to just let it end. I told the story I had wanted and it was done, to add more to it would have not felt right, so I let it end. In hindsight, maybe it was too short, maybe I should’ve kept editing…and rewriting…but it still feels right that I let it end. I was ready for it to end. I was ready to move forward on a new story. I still have my “maybe I should of” moments though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you resisted, Brianna. I think the characters can tell with their story is done and the energy of the tale resolved. Readers can feel it too, so adding more text generally detracts. And stories take as long as they take. They’re magical that way. It’s one of the reasons that I question prescribed word-counts. Let go of the should-haves and write the next story waiting to come out. 🙂 Congrats on your book and Happy Writing!

      Like

      • Thanks for the encouragement! I appreciate it! I am beginning to sink into my next book (my memoir) and thinking I might need to do a fiction one as well to work on when the memoir is too hard to push through.

        I’m letting go of the should have dones now :).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. smitchjack says:

    Do you all actually write, ‘The End’?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. joylennick says:

    I know exactly how you feel, Diana. I too shed tears when I have to kill someone off; and am even sadder when I have to leave my characters for good. Most of us give so much of ourselves when we ‘compose/build’ a character, it’s like a little piece of us has been chipped away… Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

  11. NEKNEERAJ says:

    I too felt a little sad and clueless when I completed my novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it funny how that happens? Some bloggers mentioned that it can happen anytime we complete something important to us that’s taken so much time and heart. 🙂 Thanks for the visit and comment and Happy Holidays. 🙂

      Like

  12. parkermccoy says:

    The end is always a little bittersweet. However, it’s a big relief, too. You may have more to do but you can say it’s been written from start to finish. There’s a great sense of accomplishment in that. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. unruh561273 says:

    The drastic changes I made to my story after I thought I ended it the book shocked me, but then again I played a lot with my story cause I hadn’t quite captured what I truly wanted. I still probably haven’t but better than what I had before. The saying goes “Good writing is rewriting.” This is so very true 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Good writing is rewriting.” Great saying. I’m in the rewriting phase now, cleaning up the mess. Ha ha. Drastic changes happen, particularly for pantsers. Good for you for doing the hard work of crafting. It will pay off in the end. Happy Writing!

      Like

  14. I think you’ve summarized the emotional side of typing “The End” quite well! Then there are the few times when I say, “Whew! Finally done with that one.” Sometimes I feel burned out after spending months on a project (like now, can you tell? 🙂 ) Congrats on finishing the draft!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Yes! You have hit that melancholy little nail right on the head. It’s a very similar emotional loss as the one I feel when getting to the end of a wonderful book and knowing that I have to leave the characters behind and go do something else. You will meet your characters again as you edit but the joy of their birth is never quite the same as in that first draft creation. It’s like the difference between being a mother and being a schoolteacher.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m in the midst of rewriting now, Kathleen, so my sadness is over as I revisit them again. On the eighth draft, I’ll be sick of them. Ha ha. You are so right that even hitting the publish button isn’t the same as that feeling of letting go at the end of the first draft. It’s a strange melancholic disorienting loss. Thanks so much for the visit, and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It took me ten minutes to think of the exact right word instead of sad, and melancholy fits. It’s not grief, it’s not depression, just a wistful leaving behind of the feeling of making a new baby. Of course, since I write a lot of murder stories, I lose some of my characters no matter what, LOL. And you’re right, in one of my novels I am already sick to death of the MCs, just get going already, hahaha.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Daniel Kemp says:

    A very nice article.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sarah says:

    I can only too well understand the emotional side of ending a creative project that has accompanied you for so long. Those characters are your friends, maybe even your children in a way and parting from them just hurts.
    When I finish a drawing or painting it’s fortunately not as emotional. Most of the time I’m just glad I made it, and more often than not I tend to see all the mistakes I made and couldn’t help doing at that point. So a finished painting always leaves me with the desire to make it better next time, and in a way, there’s no The End in it. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sheron says:

    Amazing post! You capture so well how I feel. I’ve ended my long series and miss my characters and the feeling of solving the puzzle of how to write a novel well. That sense of production.
    There’s a restlessness that hopefully the excitement of the holidays will fill until my muse returns.
    Happy holidays to you and yours.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Ryan says:

    You put into words an affliction I’ve had for years! Although so far I only dabble with short stories, I get a weird sense of missing the characters, as though someone you got close with has come and gone. Awesome post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, we get to know them, are intrigued and touched by them, and then they’re gone. It’s like they moved away and stopping emailing. Lol. I’m into the grind of rewrites and edits now, so my sadness is over. Thanks for the visit, Ryan. I noticed that your site is “in progress.” Be sure to stop back here at some point so I can check in and follow you. I’m looking forward to reading those characters that you struggle to let go of. Happy Writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ryan says:

        Haha; receiving the cold shoulder from the very people we create. Ah the good old grind, hello red pen my old friend, good luck! And yeah definitely, I literally just posted my first site so thanks for checking it out, well, trying! Happy grinding!

        Liked by 1 person

  20. I just finished my first book on Friday… It feels good to have accomplished my goal and self published… But now I feel restless and my mind’s already working on the next story… But I’m determined to take this week off..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, take a week and enjoy the accomplishment. And the best way to recover from finishing a book is to start a new one — you got that right! Happy Writing!

      Like

      • Thanks! It’s called CHLOE. It’s on the Barns and Noble website. Easy to find if you put my name in search area. Paperback and ebook formats… Formating paperback was…waaaay difficult! I feel anxious just thinking of putting another one up when I have a book ready again….

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Reaching the end is a mixed blessing for me as well, although I don’t bother writing those two words. I well know that the end is many drafts away.

    For me the real cathartic time is clicking the publish button. That’s when I’ve decided the story is “grown up” enough to release into the world. Messing with it anymore will be counterproductive.

    Congrats on reaching the end of your draft, though. It’s definitely a milestone worth celebrating. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  22. joylennick says:

    I know exactly how you feel, Diana, although I’ve only written one novel…Most of my other writing – apart from short stories and poetry – was factual: memoir, true adventure; humour, and articles.In the present book I’m writing, I have already shed tears over a few deaths….and just know I’ll miss it at its end… x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some bloggers mentioned the sense of loss after completing any large project that we’ve invested time and meaning into. That makes sense to me, so I’m not surprised that you’ve felt that strange disorientation. Good luck with your current writing, Joy. If you’re feeling it, so will your readers. 🙂

      Like

  23. Kintaricus says:

    I feel the same way when it comes to closing the story😭. I get the same connection for my characters, but when it’s time to say goodbye. It’s saying you’ll never see your best friend ever again💔. Hopefully you can follow me while I continue creating more poetry and stories to broaden everybody’s mind and bring a smile to everybody’s faces!😀

    Liked by 1 person

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