Today’s Ask Inkitt Question: I’m having trouble wrapping up my book. Do you have any advice on how to write a good ending?
Approaching the end of your story is exciting, but it can also be nerve wracking. You’ve gotten this far, and you don’t want to disappoint your readers. How can you make sure the ending is interesting and satisfying, and works for your story?
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you work towards your book’s ending:
Be fair to your readers.
Does this mean you always need to give them a happy ending? No, but it does mean that the ending should be fitting to the story. As a reader, I want to be satisfied when I close the book. I want the major conflict resolved and I want to know the status of the characters I’ve become invested in.
There are also some expectations based on genre to keep in mind. If you are writing a murder mystery, readers expect to know who did it by the end. In romance, a happy ending is nearly always required.
Tie up major loose ends.
Readers didn’t come this far into a story to be left with too many questions. You can certainly leave some things to your readers imagination, and if fact you should. But, don’t leave major story arcs or sub-plots unfinished, unless it’s clear there will be a sequel. Even then, this book should feel complete in its own right.
Earn your ending.
Build to the conclusion. You can do this by increasing the story’s pace, building toward a major confrontation, adding more challenge for a character before reaching a goal. The stakes have to be high enough that readers feel the tension and want to race toward the ending alongside the characters.
Don’t cheat on your ending!
You’ve got readers poised on the edge of their seats, waiting for you to bring this story to a satisfying conclusion. Don’t cheat! Twists are terrific, as long as they work. Happy endings are wonderful when appropriate, and as long as there is a hint of a realistic future for the characters. Magic is fine, as long as you’re following the rules you’ve created for that world. Don’t take the easy way out, and don’t use gimmicks that will irritate your readers.
Show your character’s growth.
Readers are invested in these characters. They’ve followed them on a journey. They want to see how all the drama, adventure, heartbreak, or war has changed them. Have they found redemption, earned a hard-fought peace, vanquished the dragon? Whatever the resolution, it’s likely cost the characters something, or required them to change in some tangible way. Readers want to see evidence of this. Here’s more on character development and arc: Deep Dive into Characters.
When you’re reading a good book, ask yourself what makes the ending satisfying, and use that information to guide you. There’s no right way to end your book, only the way that works for the story you’ve created. Your ending should give readers a sense of completion, and if appropriate, an invitation to continue the journey into the next book. You’re almost there, so end it well!
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