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Saturday, June 18, 2016

This is the End!

Why are endings so darn hard to write? Ever read a great book with an ending that just infuriated you so much you wish you'd never read the book at all? Some endings can leave readers bewildered, or have too many questions unresolved. Others are just plain unsatisfying. All that build up, for THIS? Or always a favorite, the cop out ending. Even an average reader can tell when an author has written him or herself into a corner with no way out, and fixed it with a magic solution that has no believable explanation. Nobody wants to be THAT author--the one who leaves readers hanging, annoyed, rolling their eyes, or even completely pissed off. By contrast, a great ending will have your readers raving about your book to their friends, and make them hungry for your next book. So yeah, there's a lot of pressure to come up with that perfect end to the story you've already poured your heart into.

I'm feeling that pressure right now as I finish up the last couple pages of my WIP. What makes a good ending anyway? Here are just a few key points to consider as you approach the end of your story. 

  • Make sure you've resolved the main conflict(s), or at least shown that a resolution is forthcoming. It doesn't have to be a happy ending, but it should relate to everything you've been building on, and make logical sense without being overly predictable. An unexpected twist is always a bonus!
  • Show how your main characters have grown or changed through the course of the story, for good or bad. The conflict of your story should be resolved through their actions (or inactions) rather than be a random series of events or "luck". The conflict of your story, and the development of your main characters, go hand-in-hand.
  • Make your ending meaningful. If you've done our job as an author, your readers have made an emotional investment in your world, and your characters. When they turn that last page, they should feel something. That feeling will be the last impression they have of your book. What do you want it to be? Elation, joy, sorrow, anger? The answer depends on what kind of story you're trying to tell. But does your ending take them there? The last thing you want is for that feeling to be disappointment! 
What have been your favorite book endings of all time?  What made them great? Likewise what have been the worst, and what lesson can you learn from those failures to satisfy you as a reader?

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