As I neared the end of my four-mile run the other morning, I was feeling good. Feeling fast. Feeling the burn. Feeling like I had not only enjoyed the run, but that I had worked hard the last three and a half miles. One last hill and then around the corner to my street.
But my satisfying run was about to be ruined. For on the corner is a pickle factory. And boy, were they busy making pickles this morning. Now it's not that I'm not fond of pickles. I like them well enough. The smell from a freshly opened jar doesn't even bother me. But the scent steaming from the vent of this pickle factory was an especially strong smell of a condensed kind. It hit me in the face as I puffed past. It stung my nostrils and soured my stomach.
My run was spoiled.
This is not altogether unlike the feeling you may sometimes get when nearing the end of a book. You may be enjoying the story. You sympathize with the characters. You feel invested in them. You turn each page, wondering what new development will lead them barreling toward the climax. And then...something akin to the stench of a pickle factory wafts toward your nose (or rather, your reader's mind). Something's just not...satisfying. The ending is frumpy, the characters disappointed. The book is soured, just like my stomach on the home stretch of my run the other morning.
It's funny how a bad ending can ruin an otherwise good book and a great ending can redeem a mediocre one.
As I planned the end of my second novel, I really longed for a knockout ending, but as I wrote it smelled more like mediocre. I'm still trying to figure out possible solutions, and I'm certain my critique group will be able to help me. I'm hopeful and determined to fix the problem.
Because truly, there's nothing worse than the smell of pickles at the end of a story.
Have you ever had this experience when reading a book? Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a book's ending?