Book Writing 101: The Ending

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”~ Frank Herbert

One of the main goals when writing an ending to your book or short story, is to have the reader feel satisfied, yet almost wishing there were more; to leave them wondering what might have happened to the main character beyond what you’ve written. The following tips will help you end your story in a grand fashion.

Decide when to wrap things up
There is a fine line between rushing the ending and prolonging it until the reader gets insanely bored and doesn’t care what happens. The ending should happen shortly after the final, big event. Adding more action, or a long drawn out explanation of what took place, is anti-climatic. Readers tend to lose interest once the story reaches a satisfying conclusion, however, if you finish too soon the reader may feel frustrated if events were left unresolved.

Don’t make the ending sound scripted
Usually this happens with certain genres such as romance. The reader expects a “happily ever after” ending to occur, but it is up to the writer to make it not become clichéd. The author must cause the reader to wonder what if they don’t resolve the situation and live happily ever after? Some block buster movies such as “Titanic” leave the audience hanging onto the lifeboat until the hero disappears, and the ending moves from there to a final resolution.

Center on the main struggle
In every story there is the primary conflict with sub-plots that branch off of it. Each character works out his dilemma, but the resolution should contribute to the ending in some way. In “The Lord of the Rings” there are many events happening at once, but every character’s efforts lead in part to the main event, which is the destruction of the Ring.

Using plot twists
Using plot twists are essential in keeping the reader interested in the secondary characters. They also add suspense and offer other possibilities to how the story might end. Be careful not to interject a plot twist for the sake of upping the word count, or shocking the reader. Make the twist add importance to the overall story. This is essential in mystery writing, but also keeps a romance novel from sounding predictable. Also, be frugal when using them, as too many in a story might confuse the reader and take the focus off the main plot.

How does the end affect the Reader?
How do you want your reader to feel at the end of your book? Do you want them hopeful, contemplative or shocked? If there is a sequel, you might end with a fleeting introduction of a new character or circumstance. Whatever feeling you evoke, the best ending will cause your reader to become emotionally invested in your book so that he might recommend it to his friends.