On Endings

Lately I’ve been trying to wrap up a story—without success—and every time I take another run at it, I think of something I read recently about endings, that good ones “shine a point of light on the writer’s best attempt at truth.”

I love that, because it’s how I envision endings. You direct a shiny, narrow beam of  light, or aim a long, sturdy arrow, at a pinpoint of a target. Summations, surprise twists, sudden epiphanies—these are not arrows or beams of light. Their scopes are too wide.  Continue reading “On Endings”

Whittling Words

A classic bit of advice in the book Elements of Style: Omit needless words.

But what constitutes needless? Ah, there’s the rub.

In Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, five lucky kids find golden tickets in their Wonka Bars, inviting them to tour Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory. Here’s a segment from the golden ticket:

Continue reading “Whittling Words”