The ending matters. No matter how beautiful the prose, how evocative the characters, or masterful the dialog, if a short story fails to deliver a satisfying ending, you walk away feeling cheated out of your time. Given the far greater investment of time required by the long form, readers expect a commensurate payoff.
The long form is the most powerful medium for strong, satisfying endings because it affords authors the time to develop multiple story strands, each significant in its own right, and then weave them together for a strong finish. All those strands also mean, if you're not careful, that you've got enough rope to hang yourself.
Finishing, however, is much more than the ending.
Of the few network sitcoms I've enjoyed, nearly every one of them stayed on the air for one or two seasons too many. In some cases the final season was so disappointing that it soured the entire series for me. The best programs delivered consistently and came to a graceful and satisfactory conclusion.
A strong finish is the capstone of a consistently good performance. That's why world-class gymnasts are expected to make a perfect landing after everything else in their routine.
And on that note, it is time for me to take my final bow and leave the stage, allowing others their turn in the spotlight. It has been an honor to be associated with the Utah Children's Writers blog and I look forward to great things here in the coming months and years.
Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.