Where are we when we reach the end of our story, poem, essay, novel?
As “the last word,” closure is a concern for writers of all genres. It is the close of the writer’s relationship with writing and revising; for the reader, it is parting with the immediate experience of both the text and the writer.
This parting can be (or should be) an emotional and physical experience. So why is it that texts often end with an easy or obvious—i.e., disappointing—ending? Many feel cliched, as if we’ve read this “poignant” end or punch line before. Or the end feels slapped on as if the writer was in a hurry to get it over.
In Poetic Closure, Barbara Herrnstein Smith’s presents this theory: “The conclusion of a [text] has a special status in the process, for it is only at that point that the total pattern—the structural principles which we have been testing—is revealed.” Speaking personally, Smith’s theory of Poetic Closure has influenced the way I read, write, and revise.
In this craft talk I will explore how various texts achieve closure and why; we will also look into what are our own options may be.