Question of the Week: Endings

Even the first time I saw The Return of the King, the interminable series of conclusions made me laugh. Most of them were good scenes, but they went on and on until I was thinking, “All right, already!”

On the other end of the spectrum, the wonderful Chinese action-fantasy Mister Vampire stops in freeze-frame at the instant the heroes defeat the monster—and it’s far from the only film to do so.

Somewhere between these two extremes are the Marvel movies, with their one (and now usually two) mid- or post-credits scenes. Do you find the placement of those annoying or fun?

Twice I’ve ended a book with a very short conclusion, once because of a short deadline and another time intentionally. Both times I received a few comments from readers wishing there’d been a longer denouement. So far, I haven’t gone the Return of the King route, but I’m wondering where the sweet spot is, or if there even is a sweet spot for how long a story’s ending should be.

What are some of your favorite conclusions from movies or books? Can you think of one that you loved because it was very long or very short? How about one that you hated because of its length?


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