To measure a piece of music, my friend Hartmut listens to the end first. What finishes with a flourish, a fanfare or any kind of bang is most likely garbage. Pieces that fade out instead, that disappear, are worth listening to. They have the potential to keep stimulating the listener’s brain even when the sound has already vanished.
Hartmut’s system works for texts as well. If you haven’t read “The boy in the striped pyjamas” by Irish novelist John Boyne, do so. The end will leave you shivering long after you have stopped reading. With the cruelest part yet to come the conclusion goes just far enough, the reader’s imagination does the rest. Boyne’s work is the only book of the few I have read that I remember for its ending particularly.
The third chapter ends with a funeral on a rainy day. Once every body is buried, the author concludes with the most stereotype bang possible, a clap of thunder. I immediately hated it for being too obvious and turned around the tone of the final paragraph. My version ended with a glimmer of hope that rises in the darkness.
I would’ve bet huge amounts of money on the author not liking it that way, and of course I would have won. He has to offer a surprising variety of cool, original bangs, unfortunately he still wants to stick to the banal ones as well. Like this clap of thunder at the end of the funeral.
I erased the glimmer of hope. Once again, it wasn’t worth the fight. At least I managed to tone down and hide the thunder.