So, what about the end of your novel or short story? How should it happen?
My advice is that you make it closure. Let your readers see that the main conflict has been solved via the actions of your main character(s) and that all of the loose ends are cut off or tied. You can be flexible with some loose ends, if you’re writing a series, of course. You want to leave readers with a sort of cliffhanger so they need to buy the next book. Otherwise, your story has been told… Why make readers guess?
They don’t like it, not really. I mean, some books are designed to allow readers to choose their own endings, but the conflict is still solved, just in different ways.
There are certain things that your thumbs should be broken for, however. OK, maybe that’s a tad drastic, but I really HATE bad endings. In fact, Dean Koontz is the worst writer of endings in modern literature. He is a great storyteller, but sucks at endings. I’m always left with, “Well… so what?” when I finish one of his books.
You never want that! You want readers to say to themselves or out loud to the world: “Wow! What a great book!” Right?
So, here are three things to avoid:
- Never let an unseen force or mystical something solve your problem. Well… Unless you’re writing fairy tales, I suppose. But even then, you wanted Cinderella to marry the Prince, didn’t you?
- Make sure that no questions go unanswered. If your character’s long, lost daughter shows up, but hasn’t told your character their true identity, you want your character to find out before the end of the book. Yes?
- Always be sure that your ending is logical. It has to make sense. So, for example, it makes sense that Cinderella is the only foot that fits into the glass slipper. If one of her other sisters had the same shoe size, it wouldn’t have resolved the problem and it would be far less interesting. “Oh, you both have the same size feet? Well, I was a little drunk. Let me see your noses.” I mean, come on.
If you accomplish those three things with your ending, it will be far better than just saying, “They lived happily ever after,” won’t it?