Et toujours McPhee

by Dame Eleanor Hull

“Where to end a piece?  As noted above, I usually know from the outset what the last line will be. . . .  Ending pieces is difficult, and usable endings are difficult to come by.  It’s nice when they just appear in appropriate places and times. . . . William Shawn once told me that my pieces were a little strange because they seemed to have three or four endings.  That surely is a result of preoccupation with structure.  In any case, it may have led to an experience I have sometimes had in the struggle for satisfaction at the end.  Look back upstream.  If you have come to your planned ending and it doesn’t seem to be working, run your eye up the page and the page before that.  You may see that your best ending is somewhere in there, that you were finished before you thought you were.”

The New Yorker, January 14, 2013, p. 55.

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