It’s Complicated

In short stories, when I come to endings, I feel I can end in more than one way. I get the idea of a short story from real life, but most of the times, it is just a phrase that I overheard somewhere or a scene in a restaurant that I witnessed. I elaborate that and make it into a full length story. That usually is my middle or the ‘problem’ that is needed in a story but what about the beginning or the end. It is left to my imagination as to what would be the end of my story. That is where it gets complicated for me. Do stories have to end one way or the other? Do they have to have a ‘solution’ to the ‘problem’ mentioned therein? Do we, in real life, find solutions to all our problems or do we most of the times learn to live with them? I face the dilemma often. Usually the story arc says that there should be a beginning with characters being introduced, a problem involving them and a solution to that problem along with the characters undergoing a change.

Let’s say there is a beginning and then a problem. But the problem can stay and the characters can still grow and undergo a change, viz, they at the end learn to live with that problem or that problem does not bother them as much toward the end. I read a 10 page short story like that where I got emotionally attached to the characters and their problems but it just ended with the characters in the same predicament. Nothing changed except the perspective of the child who witnessed the life of the protagonist. I felt a little cheated as a reader especially because I got involved with the characters and wanted the story to reach somewhere. Still, in retrospect, I like the story. I realize that not all stories, imaginative or real have to end. They can be left open ended and can change the thinking of the readers.