Alternate Endings

I know what’s going to happen, but for all the revisions in the world, I just can’t get there: The right ending. It happens, and it causes me great anxiety. Ok, maybe not great. But I do end up over-thinking things.

This happened with “The Electrocutioner’s Plug.” It started with a couple of words, then whole phrases. Eventually it turned into completely different ideas. It’s past the point of changing what’s published, but I still can’t decide.

Alternate Endings

He owned the property, lived alone, and spoke to no one. So had the trust fund that paid the taxes not been pilfered by the accountant no one would have known that Buchinsky had died.

The city wouldn’t have auctioned the property. The new owners wouldn’t have requested a survey. The surveyor wouldn’t have run into the barn in a sudden thunderstorm. The petrified body of Buchinsky wouldn’t have been found in the antique electric chair.

But if the key to the cellar

What about the key? The cellar holds bodies, but what leads to it?

  1. And had the key to the cellar not broken in the lock, the bones from practicing his suicide on unsuspecting vagrants would have been discovered.
  2. But had the key to the cellar not been in plain sight, the bones from practicing his suicide on unsuspecting vagrants wouldn’t have been discovered.
  3. Though had the key to the cellar not been in his hand, the bones from practicing his suicide on trespassing vagrants wouldn’t have been discovered.
  4. But if the key to the cellar hadn’t been labeled “grave,” …

Or is it even a key at all?

  1. But then the coroner wouldn’t have come. He wouldn’t have noticed the handle in the floor. And the bones from Buchinsky practicing his suicide on vagrants wouldn’t have been discovered.
  2. No one would have searched the house for a suicide note, and Buchinsky’s journals from practicing his suicide on trespassing vagrants would not have been discovered.
  3. Had none of that happened, no one would have noticed Buchinsky had died or known that he had practiced his suicide on trespassing vagrants.

Or maybe there were no murders and he was just a sad, lonely old man who had nothing. I don’t know. What do you think? Do you ever have trouble picking an ending?

*****

*Image © Copyright: Ted Strutz
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13 thoughts on “Alternate Endings

  1. I’m ok with endings, it’s the beginnings that often flummox me. Saying that, my writing is not terribly ambiguous (stuffed with metaphor, yes…stinking of symbolism, sure thing, but ambiguous not so much..). Perhaps that makes the endings easier?

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    • Perhaps it does. I do find that when I have trouble with the ending, I’m good with the beginning; and when I have trouble with the beginning, I’m good with the ending. 🙂 There’s always something.

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    • Creativity takes so much thought! 🙂 I usually delete the first couple of paragraphs that I write. It’s only then that I get the flow of what I’m trying to say.

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  2. I know what you mean, but in many ways this is all the same ending (and a gloriously vicious one at that). The exact wording of the ending is a matter for authorial decision, just like the wording of the rest of the story. I often find my wording in FF stories is influenced by the word count, some versions are longer than others and that’s something I can rarely afford in 100 words. Then I look at balance, and just the feel of the story – some of these endings add an extra character (not counting the vagrants), which is probably unnecessary in a story of this length, and takes the focus off the man himself.
    In the end though, I wouldn’t worry about or overthink it too much – all these sentences give a similar feel, and like I say, I think it’s a good twist in the story, which would work well in any of these guises.

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    • Thank you for this. You’re so thorough. 🙂
      You’re right, these really all do lead to the same ending – a murderer found dead at his own hand. I was struggling with what was the most believable way for the additional bodies to have been discovered. I hadn’t thought about the distraction of the additional characters (the coroner and whoever searched the house), and that would pack too much into the story. There are already three people in the story, plus the vagrants.
      The word count does influence word choice for me too. Originally I had the cellar as a bomb shelter, but needed to take a word back (actually, I had to take 16 out to get to 100 from the original), so that got consolidated with basically the same affect – cellar, bomb shelter, they’re both below ground and quite creepy. Vagrants was originally wandering travelers, but, again, the consolidated word offered the same image. I usually feel these FF pieces are better than the longer ones I write because I do analyze each and every word for it’s value and contribution.

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