If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.
If there’s one thing that bums me out most after reading a great book or series, it’s the anticlimactic ending. I can think of two critically acclaimed series that are hugely popular…but the endings did not meet my expectations. Why? Multiple times the authors alluded to a specific type of excitement: a major confrontation among characters, a cataclysmic event, a most definite slam-bang finish…and then failed to deliver.
Like Mr. Chekhov says in the above quote, if an author mentions more than once something to come, then it should happen at some point. If it’s mentioned only once, then I suppose I can understand; perhaps it was necessary just for the specific conversation. But if mentioned multiple times, readers will pick up on the hint that something extremely important is supposed to occur. So then why doesn’t some form of it happen? What’s the point of hinting at something to come and then not including it in the story?
It makes me go back and look over my writings. If I hint at or allude to something specific more than once, then I better make sure I keep my promise to the reader by the end!
Have you read a good novel with an anticlimactic ending? How do you think that happens, especially when an author hinted that there would be something more? Does the author forget and then miss those hints in the revisions, or is it just a manipulative literary technique to keep readers guessing and turning pages?
Have a sunshiney weekend, Zigzaggers!!!