It's an important thing that is often overlooked by beginning writers--The ending. Everyone stresses out about writing a great opening, one that will hook your readers and won't let them go 'till the end.
Openings are important, very important. Because without a good one, your readers won't even get to the end. But the question is, are they going to like the ending? Or are they going to be thinking, "Seriously? I just spent the last hour/day/week/however-long-it-takes-for-me-to-read-a-novel for that?"
Here's the deal. When you have a bad ending, no matter how well written the book is, no matter how well developed your characters are, no matter how hooking your opening is, your reader is always going to look back on the book and say, "I didn't really like it."
We're going to go over some ways you should and shouldn't end your novel. I was going to use some examples, except then I realized that it would kind of spoil the story for you if you hadn't read it yet. So, you'll just have to think of your own examples.
Ways you shouldn't end your story:
- Deus ex machina. (It's pronounced day-us ex mah-kin-uh. Yeah. I didn't get it right the first time either.) This is a Latin term literally translated "god out of the machine." In modern literary circles, it means you as the author helping your hero out in the climactic scene. It's when your hero is about to be killed by the villain, when hooray! the sheriff comes and shoots the villain. The end, throw a party, marry Susie. In your novel, your hero must cause the end of your story. If there is some interruption, then it must be because of something s/he did earlier on in the story.
- Ending? What ending? This would be when you meander the story off into nothingness. Don't do that. We need a climax, the moment when all the conflict you've been building up finally gets resolved in one, big clash. Not just kinda unraveling until there's no story left anymore.
- Destroy the conflict! Basically, don't put a big reveal in the end that erases all the conflict you had in the rest of the story. (I read a book that did that, once. After reading the ending, you looked back at all the other story events and went, "Well. That really had no point after all.") While it's not horrible while you're reading the story, it's no fun to re-read, and leaves your reader with a sort of unsatisfied feeling.
Ways you should end your story:
- Expected result, unexpected action. It's what we wanted to happen all along, but how on earth did they do it like that???
- Bigger and better. Make your climax even more exciting than you had built up for.
- Conclusive. It should fully wrap up the story. Don't leave some subplot unresolved, unless you're planning to write a second book. It'll just annoy your readers.
What are some of your favorite ways to end stories? Any book ending that you really like or dislike? (Don't spoil the ending!)
Catsi Eceer is an aspiring author of fantasy and dystopian novels. To learn more about her, visit our "About Us" page.