It's easy to coast along on our strengths, good dialog, realistic characters, good action. Yea. But endings? Yeah, that's where I'm weakest. I recently received another rejection letter, for the story (almost) nobody liked. (Thanks to Eric Guignard for the lightning fast turnaround.) Eric gave me some great feedback for my story, which was much appreciated but one thing stood out that other people in my critique group pointed out. My endings suck.
My story endings are too abrupt, at least in my short stories. So I'm going back to Nancy Kress' book, "Beginnings, Middles and Ends" (http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Fiction-Writing-Beginnings-Middles/dp/0898799058) and going through some of my notebooks of writing advice and seeing what I can find.
I know endings need to be satisfying, not always happy but they need to satisfy the reader. I need to think about this more and figure out what is going to satisfy me and my audience.
See, this is a strange weakness to me and it took this rejection to realize it IS a weakness. I almost always know my ending before I start writing my stories. I usually have a pretty clear picture in my head of that last scene or that last moment. Unfortunately, that picture, that moment isn't satisfying my readers. They want more.
So, I don't know (yet) how to solve this problem but I'm going to focus on it. If you're writing with a critique group, ask them honestly where your weaknesses are. It won't be easy to hear but listen to them and focus you attention on where you're weak.