Looking over my early attempts at writing, I notice an over-reliance on punchlines. In fiction, lots of Sixth Sense/Usual Suspects plot twists or answer keys to convoluted puzzles. In essays, a too-well-explained acknowledgement at the end that an opposing viewpoint is very likely correct.
The mistake was my idea that making a major impact on the reader at the end was the most reliable way to leave them knocked on their arse. The thought that the setup (beginning with the first word) has to be just right for a big reveal at the end to be anything but ridiculous, didn’t compute at the time.
It does now, which is one more thing that makes writing, well, work. Poor development in the beginning or middle makes a wet firecracker of the end, however subtle the end is or isn’t.
And amirite that if everything until the end is great, a subdued or anticlimactic ending isn’t really so bad?