Meradeth Houston on Ending The Chemistry of Fate

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on May 25, 2013 in Books, Guest, Meradeth Houston, MuseItUp, Writing |

Let’s give a warm welcome for returning guest poster Meradeth Houston. Her new adult novel The Chemistry of Fate (see my Goodreads review here)a companion to her YA novel Colors Like Memories, recently released from MuseItUp. The Chemistry of Fate Is on sale for $2.99 for the duration of the blog tour. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a giveaway! (Whew…)

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The Way It All Ends

Thanks so much for hosting me Katie! I thought it would be appropriate to talk about novel endings here today, especially after you helped me figure out what to do with the ending of The Chemistry of Fate :).

When it comes to novels there area few different types of endings:

  • The happily ever after (HEA), where all, or at least most of the main plot threads are tied up and there’s the promise that things are going to go well for everyone at all. Think most harlequin novels and Disney movies.
  • The cliffhanger, where there’s another book where things will (hopefully) be tied together. Usually some of the main plot threads are undone and the reader is usually left tearing their hair out waiting for the next book. The Hunger Games had some good cliffhanger endings.
  • The question mark ending (I’m inventing terms—there are probably official words for these, but what’s the fun in that?), where the reader is left thinking about what happened and is still wondering about it days later. Some important thread isn’t totally tied off, either intentionally or not. This happens in movies like The Graduate, Inception, and Primer.
  • The what-the-heck-just-happened ending, where there’s a dues ex machina ending that kind of leaves the reader wondering just what happened. I felt like the last book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate did this (literally!) and it’s often not totally satisfying. Or there’s the kill-everyone-off version too (Hamlet…).

These are some of the common endings, though I know there are more (I’d love to hear more examples!) and it varies from person to person what kind of ending works best for them. (I even know someone who prefers the “everyone dies” ending.) Personally, I love an ending that leaves me thinking, so long as some of the threads are neatly tied off. The ending of Inception was utter perfection to me.

With Chemistry, I originally had an ending that left things really hanging. While I knew who survived and who didn’t, I purposefully left it ambiguous. Which was fine, until I started discussing the next book with my editor :). She made the very valid point that what I was doing wasn’t going to work, as the book wasn’t resolved enough to flow with book #3 (which is based on two very different characters). So, I went back to the drawing board (and emailed writing friends to beg support!).

The ending that currently stands is what I came up with. I won’t give anything away, but it works a whole lot better :). (Though if anyone’s read it, I’d love to hear what kind of guesses you have as to what originally happened at the end!) But, there is something to be said about leaving your readers feeling really uncomfortable with the ending, and I’d rather heed my editor’s wise advice!

Of course, this makes me really curious. What is your favorite novel or movie ending? What kind of ending do you prefer?

The Chemistry of Fate 333x500The Chemistry of Fate blurb:

“They are everywhere, can be anyone, and are always the last person you’d expect.” When Tom stumbles across his grandfather’s journal, he’s convinced the old man was crazier than he thought. The book contains references to beings called the Sary, immortals who are assigned to save humans on the verge of suicide. They certainly aren’t allowed to fall in love with mortals. Which the journal claims Tom’s grandfather did, resulting in his expulsion from the Sary. As strange as the journal seems, Tom can’t get the stories out of his head; especially when he finds the photo of his grandfather’s wings.

Tom’s only distraction is Ari, the girl he studies with for their chemistry class.

Ari has one goal when she arrives in town: see how much Tom knows about the Sary and neutralize the situation. This isn’t a normal job, but protecting the secrecy of the Sary is vital. If Tom is a threat to exposing the Sary to the public, fate has a way of taking care of the situation, usually ending with the mortal’s death. While Ari spends time with Tom, he becomes more than just an assignment, but how far can a relationship go when she can’t tell him who she really is? When she finds out just how much Tom actually knows about the Sary, Ari is forced to choose between her wings, and her heart.

THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE is a companion to COLORS LIKE MEMORIES and is set before the latter takes place. It is geared toward an upper YA, or New Adult audience. Buy it at MuseItUp PublishingAmazoniBooksBarnes and Noble, and other ebook retailers.

About the Author:
Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:

  • She’s a Northern California girl, but now lives and teaches anthropology in Montana.
  • When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
  • She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It’s her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
  • If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.

Find more about Meradeth and her books on her website, her blog, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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  • Always great to have you guest on the blog, Meradeth. Great post about endings. I loved the original ending to The Chemistry of Fate, but I thought you tied things up nicely in the new ending as well. Sometimes a good open ending is just what I need, but it can be frustrating to some readers to have an open ending, so I see your editor’s point.

  • Yeah, I had to change my ending too. I’m glad my editor made me change it because it’s so much stronger and doesn’t give away the next book. I think I prefer the HEA ending. My current novel ties all loose ends and it makes me feel good.

  • Marie Laval says:

    Thank you for a very interesting post, Meradeth. I am a total pantser but I usually have my ending before I even begin writing the first draft! Not the full ending with all the threads neatly tied up (because I do that much, much later) but just the last image or line of dialogue.

  • Tammy Lowe says:

    Two of my favourite people on one blog post together! What a great way to start my morning. 🙂

    There’s nothing better than a great ending. I love when 99% of things are tied up, so you’re left satisfied, but I do enjoy that little cliff hanger that keeps me thinking.

  • I’m an everything tied up at the end author, for those are the endings I like to read. Even if there is a sequel or trilogy, I like them tied up. Don’t leave me hanging or I won’t read the next book. Now that’s not saying if you take a character from the previous book, or even the same character for the next book, as long as the last story tied up, I’m with you on the next.
    Does that make me odd? lol.
    Nice post.

  • Meradeth says:

    Thanks so much for hosting me Katie! And for helping me out with my ending 🙂

  • Ann Herrick says:

    While I love the HEA ending, the up-in-the-air endings are probably the ones I remember most, such as Gone With The Wind. Doesn’t everyone wonder if Scarlett and Rhett will get back together?

  • Erin says:

    Meradeth– LOL! I can hear my book club friends groaning right now because I have an “endings” soapbox! 😉 I do not like the “left untied” endings. In my opinion, you started this story, so you are responsible for finishing it. When I’m left to end it myself, I feel cheated. 😉 That said, I do not mind a good cliffhanger as long as I’m promised another book or books to bring the story to a close. Overall, I prefer a HEA ending, but I’ll take a Shakespearean tragedy (OMG- I adore Shakespeare) as long as the story actually ends. LOL!

    • Meradeth says:

      lol!! I take it you didn’t like Inception much then? 🙂 I can see what you mean, but I guess to each his own on some things!

      • Erin says:

        I liked Leo in Inception! Heehee!! 😉

        I do love Gone With The Wind, but it nearly made me crazy wondering if Rhett and Scarlett ever got back together. I needed an ending so badly that I watched all 8 hours of the sequel, Scarlett. 😉

        As my old boss used to say, “It takes all kinds to make the world go ’round.” 😉 We all enjoy different endings.

  • Kai Strand says:

    I’m going to be a total mamsy-pamsy here and say that I like all kinds of endings, as long as it is organic to the story. If the storyline was tight and neat and then suddenly we are left with open ended storylines at the end…bad. But if you have a character that is easily distracted or a bit of a nomad, then it’s fun to imagine what the rest of their story might be, because you were taught to think that way through out the book. Of course the romantic in me might prefer the HEA over the rest. I also like (in a throw the book across the room, grinning, way) a good cliff hanger when I know to expect another installment.

  • Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and engaging in this great ending debate!

  • My favorite endings are usually bittersweet (think the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Night Circus.) I write some HEA’s, but my favorite to write is, you guessed it, bittersweet. It just seems most realistic to me, while leaving me satisfied.

    Best of luck with your companion book! Sounds interesting 🙂


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