So, technically I suppose I should talk about middles before I talk about ends, but it’s the end of my day, so that’s what I’m going with. I apologize to all of you who are OCD.
And not to worry, this post shouldn’t be as long as some of my others!
For the purposes of this post, by ‘end’, I mean everything after the climax of the story. The part where the prince marries Snow White, Harry Potter after Voldemort is dead, and after Chihiro from Spirited Away has saved her parents. The wrap up.
There are really only two points I want to focus on in this post about ends.
First, remember to tie up all your loose ends! This can be easier said than done, especially if you know your story inside and out. After all, you have all the answers in your head! It can be incredibly difficult to separate what you know in your head and what you have put on paper. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Have you revealed all your secrets to the reader? Why a father hated his son (as in Academy 7) or why Pongo let 97 puppies enter Cruella’s house and destroy her furs, despite the danger (read it to find out why!). If you kept something from the readers to increase suspense (or just to mess with your poor characters), make sure everything is revealed!
- Are all of your characters accounted for and shipped off to happily ever after? I don’t mean everyone, just the ones the reader cares about. In Beastly, the end and the epilogue are not only about what happened to the main characters, but also the supporting ones (the ones who stayed with Kyle while he was a beast). The epilogue of Harry Potter also gives a good overview of what became of all our favorites, from Harry to Neville to Tonk’s and Lupin’s son.
- Do all the character motivations make sense? Why the witch felt sorry for Kyle in Beastly. Why Edward saved Bella instead of letting her turn into a vampire in Twilight. Make sure your reader knows why everyone acted the way they did!
- And, of course, does everything make sense to your reader? In a lot of movies and books, you will see the characters get together to hash out some of the stuff that happened, helping to explain things to the reader. Beastly again! Kyle and Linda have a discussion on the roof with the witch who cursed him, ironing out anything that might not have been clear. In the end of Breaking Dawn, Edward explains exactly why the confrontation with the Volturi ended the way it did.
Second point! Please, I beg you, make your endings satisfying. I don’t mean happy (though I prefer happy. Always. Telling everyone now, if I ever get published, know the end of any book I write will be happy. Things might be horrible though out, but the end WILL BE HAPPY!).
Back to topic.
We’ve all read those books with endings so great, as soon as you finish, you want to start it all over again just to read the end again. And I think one of they keys to an ending like that is the reader is satisfied. The villain is thoroughly vanquished, and in such a way the reader wants to cheer (take that, Cruella!). The hero has whatever he was trying to get the whole story, or something even better (Kyle from Beastly not only is no longer a beast, but is happier than ever, and a much better person). It doesn’t necessarily have to be happy (I only read happy books, so I have no example), but it needs to leave the reader satisfied. Best word I can come up with. I wish I could explain it better, but most of us have something that comes to mind when we think of a story with a great ending! I love reading the endings of The Chronicles of Narnia, Academy 7, Spinning Starlight (hey, that one’s a bit sad at the end!), and Speak. Find some of your favorites and try to figure out what it is about them that leaves you with that feeling of having read the perfect ending.
Well, that turned out longer than I thought! My tea is done and I’m tired. Night everyone!