Thursday, January 21, 2016

Story Endings and Pickle Factories by Heidi Chiavaroli

Heidi Chiavaroli
As I neared the end of my four-mile run the other morning, I was feeling good. Feeling fast. Feeling the burn. Feeling like I had not only enjoyed the run, but that I had worked hard the last three and a half miles. One last hill and then around the corner to my street.

But my satisfying run was about to be ruined. For on the corner of that last stretch is a pickle factory. And boy, were they busy making pickles that morning. Now it's not that I'm not fond of pickles. I like them well enough. The smell from a freshly opened jar doesn't even bother me. But the scent steaming from the vent of this pickle factory was an especially strong smell of a condensed kind. It hit me in the face as I puffed past. It stung my nostrils and soured my stomach.

My run was spoiled.

This is not altogether unlike the feeling you may sometimes get when nearing the end of a book. You may be enjoying the story. You sympathize with the characters. You feel invested in them. You turn each page, wondering what new development will lead them barreling toward the climax. And then...something akin to the stench of a pickle factory wafts toward your nose (or rather, your reader's mind). Something's just not...satisfying. The ending is frumpy, the characters disappointed. The book is soured, just like my stomach on the home stretch of my run the other morning.

It's funny how a bad ending can ruin an otherwise good book and a great ending can redeem a mediocre one.

As I recently wrote the end of my latest novel, I really longed for a knockout ending, but as I wrote it smelled more like mediocre. I'm still trying to figure out possible solutions, and I'm hopeful and determined to fix the problem.

Because truly, there's nothing worse than the smell of pickles at the end of a story.

Have you ever had this experience when reading a book? Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a book's ending?

Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, wife, mother, and grace-clinger—not necessarily in that order. Ever since taking her first trip to Plimoth Plantation with her sister, mother, and grandmother at the age of nine, she has been fascinated with history and its significance to today’s people and culture. Heidi is the winner of ACFW’s 2014 Genesis Contest, Historical Category. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Learn more about Heidi on her website:


  1. I know what you mean about the pickle factory, Heidi. We have a coffee manufacturer in our area. Passing by isn't like inhaling fresh-brewed coffee!

    I've never read Charles Martin's books (yet), but I understand he writes some amazing and surprising endings.

    I know you'll figure out that ending! Keep writing!

    1. I love his books, Sandy! Thanks for your encouragement! :)

  2. Heidi, I loved this post from the minute I read the title! Maybe someday you can incorporate those pesky pickles into a story. Now you've got me trying to come up with a slam bang ending for my suspense novel. Good luck with your ending.

    1. Good luck with your novel, Terri! Hope the ending comes together with a bang! :)


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