Sunday, December 9, 2007

Begin With The End? by Kristy Kiernan

Endings have been on my mind a lot lately. We're approaching the end of the year, December 29th will mark the end of my regular Saturday blogging with The Debutante Ball, I've reached the end of my patience with this year's seemingly never-ending travel, and the end of No Country For Old Men completely unsettled me and got me to thinking about my own endings…fiction-wise that is.

I've received mixed reactions about the ending of Catching Genius. Some people thought it was just right, happy without being sappy, some people thought it was wrapped up too neatly, too quickly, too something or other. The thing is, I never considered what a reader might think of the ending. I wrote what was, to me, the inevitable ending. It simply WAS the way it ended.

With Matters of Faith (August 5, 2008), I again did not consider what a reader might think of the ending. I wrote it the way it happened, the only way I saw the characters reacting. I've yet to hear from a reader about it since it's not out yet, but I know I will. And I know I won't make everyone happy.

So when I saw No Country For Old Men, and was perplexed and slightly put off by the ending, I had to consider the writer's intent. The book was written by Cormac McCarthy and the screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen. I've not read the book, though after I complete my little deep thought processing of the movie I plan to. So I only have the Coen brothers' screenplay to consider.

And I have to wonder, was this the only way they saw it ending? Was it inevitable, the way I think my endings are inevitable? Or did they shoot multiple endings, the way I've heard other movies have been shot? And what's more important? The reader/watcher reaction to the ending, or the writer's vision?

And considering how wide a reaction I got for the Catching Genius ending, is it something I should even worry about? Do I change my own writing process to fit the majority opinion? Would it make my books sell better? I do want to sell more books. I want to be successful in this business, I want to have a long run, I want to please my readers.

Did the ending of No Country For Old Men ruin the movie for me? Absolutely not. In fact, I walked out of the theater believing that the writers must have had a good reason for ending it the way they did. And that if I considered it long enough I would figure it out, and though I might not agree with it, I had to trust them. It won't make me stop going to see a Coen brothers film, in fact, it intrigued me. Now I'm looking around at other Coen brothers' movies to see if these sort of ambiguous endings are a trademark.

And now I'm writing a new book. And I'm thinking about the end before I've worked out the beginning. Is that a good thing? I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, what were some of the best endings you've ever read or watched and why? And what were the worst?

In other news, I got the cover for Matters Of Faith this week! What do you think? I LOVE it, absolutely love it.

Kristy Kiernan writes from southwest Florida, where she often gazes soulfully out at the water, clearly deep in thought about important things, like endings, and worrying about whether she's spending more time watching movies than reading books. Visit her online at Or don't. Because Kristy's not pushy. Unless there's a cliff nearby.


Anonymous said...

It's gorgeous, Kristy. Can't wait to read.

River Jordan said...


Absolutely LOVE the cover of new book. One of my favorite endings? Angela's Ashes. Last Chapter. One word. It was all that was needed.


Kristy said...

Hey Anonymous, thanks! Whomever you might be :-D

Yes, River! I'd forgotten all about Angela's Ashes, thanks for the reminder (and for loving the cover!).

Jackie said...

Sorry Kristy, the ending of "No Country" did ruin it for me. It made the entire movie a waste of my time. An ending doesn't have to be happy but it does need to be appropriate.