I tried to plan my fic writing over the weekend too and realised quite how much I have to write this month. I really need to almost finish my Merlin Big Bang because May I'll be writing lots of other things. I also need to write my key fic. Then there is getting started on all the fic for May, which doesn't count the other fics wandering around my head that need to be written down. I think I may be busy this month ::g::.
Talking of fic, let's discus endings.
Okay, so a fic should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Now as far as I can tell very few people have trouble with the beginning or the middle bits, but I have seen a distressingly large number of people who do seem to have trouble with the end.
The only type of fic that I think you can excuse not having a beginning, a middle and an end is a drabble, but even the best ones of those do, it's just much more subtle.
This is all my opinion and please don't think I'm talking about anyone specifically, because I'm not and I read in a huge number of fandoms and on a huge number of sites :).
First of all, let's look at what I call WiP Syndrome. I'm sure it has many other names and had been written about by many other people, but it's a bugbear that comes back to bite many and happens to be on my agenda because I spent six hours reading a fic on Sat, only to find that the end sucked. Hence the reason I feel like talking about it today ::g::.
Now this fic started off wonderfully, had me totally hooked and seemed to know where it was going, until about ten chapters from the end. Then it all went downhill. The detailed descriptions and wonderful character interaction that had marked the rest of the fic as excellent suddenly became patchy, with huge swathes of time being skipped, and the fic lost focus. It had been wholly focused on two characters, but suddenly it wasn't anymore and if felt as if the author had no idea where to stop the story and round it off. This meant that the end was unsatisfying and did not bring about the resolution needed to give it a proper end. In this case I think the author was actually trying to do too much in one story and got bored, hence wanting to finish the fic and doing so without taking care of what was important. For the story to have worked properly with all the plot given it needed to be another 50 chapters long. However, I don't think it needed to be, I think what the author needed to do was round of the story they were actually telling, which was actually the beginning of an epic, and then leave the rest for another story entirely. Yes they would have had people begging for a sequel, but that is far better than leaving your readers completely unsatisfied.
Every story can go on and most good authors leave hooks in stories to make you want to know more, but the trick is knowing when to end the current one.
I have no problem with the WiP format; it works very well for the internet and the community aspect of fic writing, but I would beg one thing of WiP writers: know where you are going and how you are going to end the fic before you start posting it. Fics do grow and change as you write them, but without a goal in mind they can lose focus and at the worst (like the example above) screw it all up at the end. Know the story you want to tell, even if you're not quite sure exactly how you are going to tell it yet.
Of course, WiPs are not the only fics to suffer from the whole lack of ending problem. I've read short fics that have the same issue, just for different reasons.
A fic that brings in an idea, starts to explain it and then fails to give any hint of a resolution at all is not a story, it's a chapter. And a resolution does not necessarily mean a fix; you don't have to fix everything in one fic, but you do have round off what you are telling.
For example, I read a fic the other day (no, I'm not telling you which one it was or where it was or even which fandom it was), it had two of the major characters discovering that they were in dire straits. Perfectly normal beginning to a fic, in fact, good beginning :). Then we had the middle where they figured out what was going on. Normal so far. Then, however, there was the end where they decided they need help, but didn't know how to get it. That was it ... the end. That's like starting a sentence and then not ...
See, it's really annoying.
As far as I can see the writer had two choices for a proper ending.
1) Let the characters solve the problem of getting help, let help arrive and then round it off where our heroes are stuck, but content that they could be fixed. (With an ending like this there is usually a sequel where the fix occurs, but not always).
2) Let the characters solve the problem of getting help and let help fix them.
Either that or they should never have brought in the idea of help in the first place.
I'm not for a minute suggesting you can't have open endings, you can, but they're still endings. I think the trick is finishing the story you are telling, which isn't necessarily the whole story, but neither is it an orphaned piece of action.
That was a bit ranty wasn't it, sorry, it wasn't mean to be :).
Endings are hard. Knowing when to stop is one of the really difficult bits of a fic. You don't have to know the end when you start writing, but by the time you're halfway through, if you don't have an idea you're probably in trouble (can't remember which author said that, but it's very true :)).
Even PWPs have a beginning a middle and an end: the characters want sex, they get sex, they usually have a thought about having more sex at some time in the future ::g::. A PWP where one of the couple has just prepared the other one and it just stops wouldn't be very satisfying would it? ;)
There are no hard and fast rules about endings and it's often an instinctive thing. A good rule of thumb is, if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't - which I'm sure is not incredibly helpful, but there it is :).
I have several long fics on the go at the moment and the one thing they have in common is that the endings are all written. Now I leap all over the place when writing, so it's not unusual for me to have scenes written and not joined together, but I know many people write in a linear fashion, so I'm not suggesting everyone should write the ending first or anything, just that it's a really good idea to have something to aim at. That ending can also change, you might get halfway through a fic and thing, 'crap, that ending sucks' and change it, but you've still been writing towards a goal and will still be writing towards a goal. The only time to worry, I think, is if the ending keeps changing; that's probably and indication that the fic is losing focus.
Once again, this is all just my humble opinion, so feel free to completely disagree. ::g::
So have you had any experiences with endings, good or bad, writing or reading? I'd love the hear about them.