Thursday, July 16, 2015

Writing the Book, Part Four: The End

You've done it! You've gotten an idea, written the beginning and middle of the book, and now you're ready to write the ending! Whoo-hoo!
...Maybe.
Unless you're like me, and endings scare you to death. The ending of a story is incredibly important. And I know I've said that about the beginning and the middle parts of the story, too, but seriously--the ending of a book is the real deal. It's the part where everything comes together (or quite possibly falls apart, if you're writing a series) and it's the part of the story where lots and lots of stuff happens. It always sucks to fall in love with a book and then get to the ending and go, "What?! That was the ending! It sucked!" You don't want that to happen with your readers, right? So let's talk about a few key elements of a good story's ending.

1. There's some sort of twist or shock factor. A character dies. A character thought to be dead is actually not dead. Your MC's best friend is actually a bad guy, or maybe he/she is actually the antagonist. Who knows! The point is that a good story includes a twist (or maybe a few twists) in the ending chapters. Adding something unexpected will shock both your characters as well as your readers, which will add some flare to the story. If you have a twist planned for the ending, it's also fun to sprinkle tiny hints about that twist throughout the middle chapters of the story.
2. The climax needs to be exciting! Is your character defeating a dragon? An evil wizard? An army of robots? Or maybe your MC barges into a wedding and steals the bride away. Whatever it is, your climax needs to be fast-paced, energetic, and enough to keep a reader on the edge of their seat. Your climax also needs to be realistic and well-paced. If your climax is sloppy, your readers definitely won't be happy. For example, as much as I absolutely adore the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, I was not very pleased with the ending of Blood of Olympus. (SPOILER ALERT) Personally, I thought Gaea was defeated way too quickly. The entire series led up to this great battle that was going to happen, and when it actually happened it just seemed far too simple and easy. I kept expecting Gaea to rise up like, "Surprise! Still alive!" but that never happened, and I'm still disappointed to this day. Don't get me wrong, I love love love Rick Riordan's books. But because of the climax in the final book, I'm a little disappointed with the entire series.
3. The ending needs to . . . well, be an ending. As weird as that sounds, it's true. Like I said before, there's nothing worse than reading a great book, getting to the ending, and thinking, "What? That's the ending? It sucked!" A lot of times, I've found myself saying this after reading a book or watching a movie where the ending wasn't really an ending. If you leave questions unanswered or leave off with a simple, average sentence, then your ending wasn't an ending! As you near your last few pages, keep in mind that these words are the last your audience may hear from these characters for a while, or maybe even forever (depending on whether or not you're writing a stand-alone or a series). And when it comes to last sentences, make sure you leave the audience with something to really think about. Truthfully, your last sentence is just (or maybe even more) important than your first sentence.
As much as I stress over writing the ending of my stories, there is absolutely nothing better than writing the words, "The End." Check back next Tuesday for the final post in this series, where I'll talk all about what to do once you've finished your book.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

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