The Case of the Open-Ended Story
by Jennifer AlLee
I'm facing a literary dilemma... at the end of my novel-in-progress, Last Family Standing, I leave two plot points open at the end. They're not dangling threads that I accidentally forgot to tie up. I left them that way on purpose, for reasons I can't disclose here, lest I give away the ending. I like the way it works. However, my editor is concerned that readers may be frustrated by the lack of information. So now, I'm in a quandary.
There are many classic short stories and novels that don't provide an easy wrap up at the end. In both The Lady and the Tiger and The Monkey's Paw, the question is, what lies behind the door? The Bell Jar leaves us wondering what Esther's future holds. Even on television, the ending of the HBO series, The Sopranos, still has people talking about whether or not Tony got what was coming to him.
Granted, open-endings don't work for every story, and they are downright forbidden in some genres. Can you imagine a mystery with no clear cut ending? But life isn't always neat and tidy and, sometimes, neither is fiction. Sometimes, the opportunity to mull over what you've read and make up your own mind is far more powerful than having the ending handed to you.
My question for you today is this: What do you think of the open-ended ending? Do they challenge you? Frustrate you? What short story/novel/movie has either enthralled you with the open-ending, or made you want to scream?
JENNIFER ALLEE was born in Hollywood, California, and spent her first ten years living above a mortuary one block away from the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine. Now she lives in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, which just goes to prove she’s been blessed with a unique life. When she’s not busy spinning tales, she enjoys playing games with friends, attending live theater and movies, and singing at the top of her lungs to whatever happens to be playing on the car radio. Although she’s thrilled to be living out her lifelong dream of being a novelist, she considers raising her son to be her greatest creative accomplishment. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. Her novels include The Pastor’s Wife, The Mother Road and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas from Abingdon Press; Diamond in the Rough and Vanishing Act, the first two books in the Charm and Deceit series, from Whitaker House and co-written with Lisa Karon Richardson; and the novella Comfort and Joy in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories from Barbour.