The End

The end of a novel is simply the most difficult to do well; a finish line reached by the athletic culmination of words racing forward from the opening line. I found that my writing slowed at the end, like an exhausted athlete who is filled with elation and emotion as he collapses over the tape, triumphant. I hope my readers share the same emotion.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’ writes F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. I like this because it is profound and emotive; a final comment about chasing the American dream.


The End from the Beginning

There’s one thing every writer needs to master, and that is how to leave a lasting impression on readers—how to end their story. Should it be unresolved or ambiguous; unexpected or dramatic? As writers, we have plenty of options. So, you might ask, what worked for me in my latest novel? More on this to come, suffice to say that I changed the ending a few times, more or less in keeping with my editing and having more time to review it. In the end (pun intended), I changed the ending to tie up a loose end near the beginning. I could tell you more, but that would be giving the plot away. OK, here’s a glimpse of the beginning of the final chapter:

Chapter 86

“It’s a perfect evening,” I exclaim, easing the genoa. A puff of wind fills the sail and it swings out to leeward, clipping the waves. As we heel, the view of Dubrovnik widens. The walls are bathed in orange and the sea is dotted with boats making their way home. Our bow rises with the breeze, slicing through the swells. Beside me, Rian is a seasoned sailor behind the wheel—happy, tanned and in control, and Chloé sits opposite with her hand in the foam. Like her hair, the moment is golden.

“Does this yacht have a name?” She asks Rian.

He pulls the tiller to bear away into the harbor and replies, “Serendip.”

I smile. It’s the old Persian name for Sri Lanka. My mind races back to the tea estate in Kandy and I see Ravi again, serving us high tea on the manicured lawn in colonial fashion while the sun fades behind Adam’s Peak at the end of a day just like this. My memory is on fire as the sun punches into the ocean.

“Can you tie the bow line please, Chris?” Rian asks as we drop sail and motor past St. John Fort.

“Roger that.” I leap ashore, securing fore and aft ropes, and follow Rian along the boardwalk. He winds his way between a crowd, their faces washed in red as they enjoy the sunset. Girls pose for their lovers and lonely hearts watch their fishing lines bob above the tide. The fish aren’t biting, but tourists are as they flock to a choice of restaurants.

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