I dedicate this post to Ivan Doig, a great American author, whose work left a lasting impression; a literary legacy worthy of admiration.
I’m not sure what impression I was trying to make here, but if Facebook had been around in 1982, you bet your ass I would have posted this gem.
I’m not always known for making a great impression, or even an appropriate one, and I often tell myself I should stick to leaving an impression with my books, essays, and stories.
Writers leave impressions because they want their name and/or their work to be remembered. Author Kristen Lamb made a hilarious impression by promoting her books using feminine hygiene products. (Seriously, it’s hilarious.) When it comes to book promotion and signings, I tend to lack the creativity to come up an impression-leaving gimmick, so I try to leave an impression with my work.
We hear so often about having a strong beginning to snag readers, which is still important, but what about an ending? Isn’t that your final opportunity to leave a lasting impression? It could be what’ll make a reader hug the book to her chest and sigh, or close the book and say, “Hmph. I was kind of hoping for . . .” Even if she enjoyed the rest of the book, the impression you leave her with, particularly at the end, can change how she feels about the entire book. That can also be a good thing. What if the reader found the book just okay, but the ending brought it all together? It happens. Obviously, our goal as writers is to wow from start to finish.
Every book and story is different and it doesn’t have to be a happy ending or a cliffhanger, as long as it leaves the impression that you hope it will. Take a step back and decide what your overall message is and bring your story around to that; hint at it, at least. Maybe you’re trying to bring awareness to a particular issue. Or that you hope readers will be more open-minded about something. Or maybe you just want them to close the book, smile, and write a raving Amazon review.
Endings can be hard to write; they’re not usually my favorite part to come up with, but they are very important to the reader, so devote a good deal of attention to them. You only have one opportunity to leave a last impression.
How do you like to leave an impression as a writer?