We all know that writing the beginning of a story is anything but easy and that it takes a while before you get it right. The part that comes next requires a lot of imagination, endurance, determination and a strong will.
And then after all that there is the ending. And the ending is just as hard as the beginning. But how do you end a book? After all that your character has gone through and everything that you have written and described and thought up; after all the questions you’ve posted in your stories—how do you put an end to that in just a few pages?
I don’t really know. There are probably a lot of ways how you can end your story properly. I don’t know all of them and I don’t know which are best. But I’ll tell you all I know about endings and give you the DOs and DON'Ts of ending your story.
• Check all separate story lines and write down all the “questions” in your book. Make sure that all these questions will get an answer somewhere in the story. You don’t want to leave the reader guessing.
• Write an ending that makes your readers happy and feel like they have fully enjoyed reading your book. A bad ending (I don’t necessarily mean “unhappy”) can ruin the readers view on the book no matter the rest of the story. Make sure they are satisfied.
• Take your time. The ending and the beginning are (if you ask me) the most important parts of the book. The beginning draws you in. The ending leaves an impression. Don’t rush things.
• After writing your ending read your story again (at least the last part) and see if the ending “fits” with the rest of the story and if you felt it answered all the questions and was as good as promised.
• Don’t end your book in a cliffhanger. An exception is made when you are writing a series. Then you might want the first or second book to end with a (small) cliffhanger so that your reader wants to read the next book. But keep in mind that it can be really annoying for the reader if they have to wait a few months for the next book while they are dying to know what happens. So my advice; make it exciting, but don’t be too cruel.
• Don’t have too many endings at once. If you have several story lines make sure they either all intertwine in the end and have one single ending, or make sure the other smaller story lines end gradually throughout the story. And leave the real ending for the main story line.
• Avoid a Disney ending. Not everything can just magically go well and end well. Let the main character struggle, let him learn. Let him have accomplished and lost something at the same time. A Disney ending is great for kids but older readers will probably find it unlikely and unsatisfying.
• Don’t make your reader feel cheated out of something. Make sure the ending is as good as the beginning of your book promises it to be.
There are about five main endings that I can think of right now. It’s probably clear to you which story ending you have to choose. If not, take your time and consider each one before choosing.
• The happy ending
The character has struggled greatly and after one big challenge he wins, but usually looses something in the process. He learns something and has defeated the “evil”. With other words he lives happily ever after.
• The sad ending
The sad ending is when everything doesn’t go right. And perhaps the main character is killed off (not really recommended but in some books there is no other way) or dies naturally or perhaps it is a “happy ending” in a way, but so many sad things have happened in the end that the reader is left with a depressed feeling.
• The confusing ending
If you want to use this ending I suggest you make sure you have a good reason to do so. Personally I don’t like confusing endings. They always make you wonder what exactly happened and leaves you with a lot of questions. But with some (confusing) books a confusing ending seems appropriate.
• The open ending
Everybody knows the open ending where they just leave you wondering what will happen. Sometimes because it is nearly impossible to give a story an ending. Other times because it would otherwise take too long to explain everything. And at again other times I guess the writer just wanted you to imagine for yourself what happened to them. Again it’s a risky ending but it might just be right for you.
• The ending that is not really an ending at all
This is where the story just ends really without much warning and without closure. There wasn't really a "real" ending. But all the questions that had been posted in the story have all been answered. The reader just has more questions themselves like, but what happened after this or, did they end up married when they grew up? The only ending that is not really an ending at all that I can think of right now is from The Story Girl.
If you are still having trouble ending your story try this:
1. Write down the “problem” of your main character. Which is the demon he must face, the princess he must rescue. Aka it’s what the story is about.
2. Write down possible solutions for the problem (how is he going to save her, how will he get rich, how… etc). These are your endings.
3. Pick the most beautiful and the most difficult ending (difficult for your character) which must still be (at least slightly) plausible.
4. Write this ending. Worry about the facts, the action, the story line and nothing else.
5. Now go back and make it pretty. If you want you can add a “happily ever after” scene, which takes place after all the action.
Do this with all the small story lines as well and make sure that you don’t miss any of them and give them all a proper ending.
This post was requested by KatKin. I hope this helped you and sorry that it took so long! But I made it extra long to make up for it.
I’ll still be in Germany till Saturday and till now it has been fantastic. In Holland everything is so flat and here there are hills and small mountains and lots of forests. It makes our country seem like one big city. I saw wild animals and strongholds and the remains of a castle and much more. Perhaps I’ll post about them later.
Lastly I’d like to congratulate my brother who has finished his first draft of his Sci-Fi novel today! I haven’t read all of it yet, but till now it’s very promising. Again congrats on finishing your first novel!! :D
Everybody enjoy your holidays for as long as they last!