Similar to starting a story, ending a novel also requires much effort.
In fact, you’ll probably feel conflicted when writing the ending. I know I am. For me, I feel half happy that I finally finished writing the story and half sad that the story is ending (time to say goodbye to my kick-ass heroines and oh-so-hot love interests).
Today, I’ll like to share the key elements of a satisfying ending and tips on how to write a good ending.
Do check out my blog post on the different types of story endings for your fiction novel~
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Elements Of A Satisfying Ending
A satisfying ending is where the story has come to a logical end and the protagonist has achieved his goal. Here are 2 essential elements:
A good ending will resolve everything you’ve laid out, including the central conflict, mystery, goal and more. Everything should be wrapped up, such that readers walk away feeling that the story is complete.
Your protagonist might have developed by the end of the story. He might have learned valuable lessons along the way and learned to think carefully before making decisions. The ending should thus illustrate his transformation.
1. Have A Proper Closure
Whether you’re writing a positive or negative ending, do ensure that you have a proper closure. Proper closure isn’t about your protagonist getting married or dying, it’s more about tying up all loose ends. Readers should walk away from your book with a sense of closure.
If you’re writing a series, you might consider ending with a cliffhanger. There’s room for interpretation here. For instance, your protagonist might defeat a criminal in Book 1. But readers know that this criminal actually works for a politician. Such a cliffhanger ending will thus tease the next book of the series where your protagonist finds out about the politician and thinks about how to deal with this mastermind.
For more details, check out the different types of story endings for your fiction novel~
2. Tie Up All Loose Ends
By the time you reach the ending, you should have tied up all loose ends and resolved the storyline. Meaning that all your subplots should have been completed, including the love story or friendship between your characters, the mystery of a certain character’s birth or a secret that is finally revealed to everyone. Do resolve all elements that you’ve introduced throughout the story.
If you’re writing a series, the last book of the series should have finished that overarching plot. For instance, the ending of previous books could be about defeating an underling and discovering clues about the antagonist’s identity while the ending of the last book should show how the protagonist finally defeats the antagonist. It’s similar to a game where the player defeats mini-bosses at each stage and finally, defeats the big boss at the last stage.
3. Ensure Your Ending Makes Sense
No matter what genre your book belongs to (romance or science fiction), the ending must be the result of a logical progression of the plot and your protagonist’s choices and actions.
Your readers spent days or even months reading your story. They are fully invested. And they want the satisfaction that the protagonist arrived at this ending due to their choices and actions.
Avoid endings where a new character suddenly appears and saves the world, your protagonist suddenly gains an invincible superpower or your character reviving when he should have died.
4. Think About How You Want Readers To Walk Away From Your Book
Endings are like conclusions where everything you’ve set up comes to an end. This might leave readers happy, sad (that they cry like babies), at the edge of their seats or just guessing what happens next.
Romance fiction, for example, usually ends with a happily ever after. This happy ending is essential for the genre where many readers expect to feel happy after finishing a romance novel.
The key is considering the lingering emotions that you want readers to close the book with. This means that your ending should evoke emotions and make readers feel something.
And this can mean the difference between a good story and a bestseller.
5. Shortlist A Few Different Endings
If you’re unsure of how your story will end, you can consider brainstorming a few different endings.
As you outline your story and map out your protagonist’s journey, there might be various possible ways to end the story. Jot down these different endings and consider which ending makes more sense or evokes the emotions that you want readers to feel. You can also choose to ask your trusted alpha and beta readers or editors. Get their opinion and see how they feel about the ending.
Check out my blog post on the different types of story endings for your fiction novel~
Bonus Tip: Know The Ending Before You Start Writing
Okay, I’m not sure if this works for everyone. But for me, I usually have a picture of the ending before I start writing. [Spoiler Alert] In fact, most of my protagonists’ abilities are the reasons why they die in the first place.
If you know how your story will end or at least, an inkling of what happens to your protagonist or characters, this will help guide your plotting and writing. You can even drop hints, clues or foreshadow what happens next so readers can guess and accept the ending when they reach the last page. Of course, the details of your final scene might change but it should be similar to the ending you’ve planned.
Now It’s Your Turn
Have you implemented any of the above tips? How was your experience?
Do you have any tips for fellow writers on how to end a story?