Monday, 24 February 2014

On Endings

I’ve written and critiqued a fair number of short stories in my time and one of the things that is notoriously difficult to get right is the ending. The ending has to be strong. It has to resonate with the reader and leave an echo that lingers with them long after they have finished reading, and it has to pull everything that has gone before into perspective. Very often it is the ending that really makes a short story work, or alternatively can let it down completely.

But the need for a strong ending applies equally to longer works of fiction, and this is where I’ve been struggling with my WIP. So far I’ve written three endings, but they all feel a bit weak.

The story ended on a note of high drama and it left me exhausted. For a while I left it as it was, but as I started to get feedback from my beta readers it has become clear that I need some sort of epilogue – a final scene to bring it all together and provide closure for my traumatised MC.

I talk about endings when I run my writing workshops for kids, and we discuss the different sorts of endings you can have. I ask them about what books they have read and what sorts of ending they like. Their answers always fascinate me. So I need to make this ending just as memorable, just as powerful. Other authors manage it. I can too.

And I think I have an idea ….

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Holding back the Sea

Last weekend we headed over to Portland and looked down from the heights at the waves crashing against Chesil Beach. This was a calm spell between the storms, but the sea was still a churning whiteness. At the height of the storms the waves have been overtopping the bank, the beach road flooded, the island cut off.

A huge quantity of shingle and pebbles on the seaward side of the bank has been scooped away and the army were moving in with their diggers, shoring up the defences and clearing the storm drains in readiness for the next onslaught. More gales are forecast, and these will coincide with a spring tide - never a good combination.

The waves have been massive, close to 8m in height, and this little graph shows so well the sort of battering out coastline is getting as a succession of storms sweep through. (You can check out the data near you here)

As an island nation our coasts are always going to be vulnerable to the effects of the sea, more so as sea levels rise, and this has been illustrated all too well by recent events – the undermined railway at Dawlish, the flooded coastal towns. There is even talk of a managed retreat from some coastal areas in Wales.

Suddenly the world of Red Rock doesn’t feel so fictional after all.