In many things, intention does not count. Unexamined bias? Harmful stereotypes? The best of intentions can not fix these things.
But you intend something when you write a story. Maybe you intend some deep, profound statement. Maybe it’s a general sense of unease and trepidation. Whether you know it or not, you want your reader to turn the last page and come away with something – a question, or an answer, or an image, or an emotion.
I’m specifically talking about the very, absolute end, not the overarching whole of the story.
I’d never really thought about that until recently. I ran a short story by a writer-friend, and she asked me what I wanted readers to take away from it.
At first, I didn’t know. Obviously, I didn’t know, because the end didn’t tie up quite as neatly as I wanted. But the more I thought on it, the more I realized I did want something from the end. Beyond, you know, ending the damn thing and getting it out of my hair.
Figuring out my answer didn’t change the end much. I may have added a line or two, but those changes (small though they were) altered the story just enough. They tied the end more fully to the beginning, which made the story so much more satisfying.
Have your intentions ever made a story clearer? Give it a shot and let me know how it works for you!