This is part one of an ongoing series of posts on elements that make endings work. The intro is here.
3. The Ending Is A Fulfillment of the Promise Made at the Beginning
In Beginnings, Middles And Endings, Nancy Kress describes the beginning as a promise. Implicit within the prose, the way we’re introduced to characters, the flow and sense of danger – built into all that is a certain sense of how this story will play out, what kind of hard truth or humor we’ll meet along the way. The best endings, more than being surprising or explosive, need to be an answer to that question posed at the beginning. They fit within the pattern established on page one, even if they’re shocking, it’s within a certain realm of shocking. The same key, to use a musical analogy.