Those two words sum up every reason why I try to write a novel. I love to create and I can’t hold a book in my hand if I don’t reach those immortal two words. But it’s more than just the self-gratification of holding up something I made with my twisted brain. It’s because of the money. Oh wait…I haven’t made any yet.
So endings are scary for many reasons. The ending of many a novel has caused more than one reader to throw a writers baby out the window. But what is the best way for a novel to end? If I knew that answer, I wouldn’t be writing this post. Here’s what I do know:
- The reader needs to feel that they’ve arrived somewhere (learned something new, reached an emotional state, are different/better for have read the book)
- Most (not all) characters need to grow/change (James Bond doesn’t grow or change)
- Promises need to be honored (not all). If the focus of the book is to rob a bank, the bank better get robbed (or at least give us a good reason not to).
- End at a logical place. Cliff hangers are fine as long as the new question/problem introduced is complex enough to warrant a new novel. If your main character asks his girlfriend to marry him and the book ends without her simple yes/no answer, you’ve lost me.
- Denouement. This fancy word means this: The events following the climax of a drama or novel in which such a resolution or clarification takes place. Basically it’s the reveal of what your characters will do with their lives after they’ve won (or lost) the day. You’ve blown up the Death Star…now what?