After covering Breaking Into the Middle we have come to The End. You can fix a weak story with a strong ending, so it is very important to focus just as much attention to your ending as the rest of your novel. A great ending should surprise the reader and feel perfect for the story that has gone before it! It is important to not be predictable, as that will keep readers coming back for more.
Keeping the momentum of the story until the end will keep the reader going, only when the main character is completely ready for the finale should you let up on the momentum to give the grand finale. After that BIG moment you want to give the reader closure – something that leaves them with a feeling of completion. This gives them the emotional fulfillment that they have been racing through the book to find. That is not to say the ending has to be a happy one. You can find just as much emotional fulfillment when the lead character does not get what we have hoped for. The main character needs to find something better or have some kind of conclusion, happy or not.
When you are lost for an ending and even if you are not, a way to help spice up your endings is to come up with at least ten alternative endings. Just jot them down quickly, do not think on this, you can worry about their feasibility later. The main idea is to come up with a few ideas that “could” be fun. Let the ideas sit for a day or so and then look them over; what jumps out at you? What looks like it is perfect? Choose a couple of them to refine a little more. Let them simmer. Coming back to them later, choose the one that gives the best twist and satisfaction overall. Most importantly, remember the ending needs to resolve the major plot issues. Some loose threads may be acceptable, just make sure that they are not something the reader is going to be worrying over after they finish reading. No one wants to keep wondering what has happened after the ending. Having a trusted friend or fellow writer read through to see if the story felt tied up to them can be a helpful practice.
The end is what we leave our readers with so we want them to remember and linger over it. This way they will come back for more. Next time we will look at What Happens Next.