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Bulletin Board > How do you like for a book to end?

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message 1: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Eaton | 53 comments I never have a problem starting my stories or books. I have, however, encountered more difficulty in ending them. I think that is because we have a multitude of options for a conclusion and I am never sure which would be "the best."

A happy ending? Or a startling ending that may leave the reader troubled but grinding on your book for some time? An ending that strongly resolves things, or an ending that is more like real life...leaving a few threads dangling without any resolution to them?

Finally, does a genre necessarily nudge one toward a certain type of conclusion?

Interested in your thoughts, and in any endings to a book that especially resonated or stuck with you.

message 2: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) | 324 comments Endings are important to a story and I think the ending has to follow the pace and tempo of the plot and characters.

Some genres definitely have required endings. "Romance" must have a happy or at minimum a satisfactory ending. "Crime" must be solved. "Horror" requires a scary climax. These are required for these genre labels to be used.

I read literary, romance, horror, classics, sci-fi, and contemporary fiction. As for endings, I must admit I recall some great books I've read over the years, but I recall the whole story.

Perhaps you are putting too much emphasis on an ending. Telling a great story is what it's all about. The ending needs to flow from that story naturally.

I've read books that forced an ending that didn't fit the story, or ended too quickly and those I remember. At least I remember how disappointed I was at the end of the book.

message 3: by Jim (last edited Jan 30, 2015 07:43PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1072 comments Happy, sad, inspiring, or tragically - it doesn't matter, as long as the ending is believable and doesn't insult the reader's intelligence.

message 4: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee | 9 comments I agree with Christine and Jim, the ending should flow naturally and not be forced. I find that as the story unfolds, it makes its own ending.

I, for one, love endings that are happy and ties the story up in a neat package. Writers of wholesome romance know their readers want a happy ending, it goes with the genre. And yet, that's not necessarily true of other works. Again, the ending will write itself, you don't have to wonder how.

message 5: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Zigler (toriz) | 2886 comments As already mentioned, the type of ending depends on the genre, the story itself, and also on the writing style of the author.

As for things being tied up... If it's a stand-alone book, or the final one in a series, then everything should be tied up properly. If it's an earlier book in the series, then the plot points that made up the bulk of the story should be all tied up, with something left only partially resolved to make the reader want to read the next book (like how the problem of the Chamber Of Secrets is resolved, but the threat of Lord Voldemort coming back still exists in the second Harry Potter book). Personally, I hate when too many things are left unresolved even in series books, and find it extremely annoying when a stand-alone book or final book in a series leaves loose ends that weren't tied up properly.

But the most important thing in an ending is that it's the right one for the story, which the story itself will tell you.

message 6: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 276 comments i dont have anything new to add as everyone already said it. i personally dont write happy endings it seems so fake and contrived. i tend to write sad, thoughtful/disturbed, open, or failure endings. im hard on my characters :p

message 7: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) Jeffrey wrote: "I never have a problem starting my stories or books. I have, however, encountered more difficulty in ending them. I think that is because we have a multitude of options for a conclusion and I am ne..."

So far, my books have included multiple viewpoint characters, so the ending is happy for some, not so happy for others. For most of my short stories, I've tended to prefer, if not a happy ending, at least one that is satisfying to the character who is seeking the goal set for him in the story.

message 8: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Eaton | 53 comments These are all excellent insights I feel. I think what so many authors grapple with is whether they must write an ending that "fits the genre" (causing their book to 'conform' to expectations), or to break the mold somehow (therefore possibly establishing their book as a breakout novel people are more likely to notice).

When I am reading a work of literature, I prefer an ending like what K.P. writes: something that seems true to life rather than artificially saccharine. Still, how many of us have walked out of a movie that had a less than happy ending thinking, "Well now I am in a sour mood, dang it."?

I write murder mysteries as of now. The mystery has to be solved but it is a series so I cant kill everyone in an air crash in the final chapter. Must each book end on a high note, I wonder (which is what I did with the first one). Or, is it OK for me to play with a somewhat dark and ominous ending at some point?

message 9: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 491 comments @Jeffrey I could totally see a book ending with the murderer being caught but in the last chapter, or epilogue, a hint that a copy cat is starting to kill too, or that the killer might not have been acting alone.

See, I wouldn't call this a cliffhanger, but then again, I may not be your average reader either. :/

message 10: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 361 comments My tip is that the end of the book should hark back to the beginning in some way. Which may call for a little rewriting of the first paragraph or two. But it lends a thematic unity that is important. Consider LOTR. The last words are Sam's: "Well, I'm back." Which ties in not only the entire departure from the Shire, at the beginning of the first volume, but also THE HOBBIT, which as you recall is subtitled 'There and Back Again'.

message 11: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) I prefer the ending to be huge explosions and whole worlds being blown up and all the main characters dead...either that or the main love interest resolved in a sweet kiss and a walk off into the sunset...or something somewhere between those two.

I.e., I agree with most of what's been written.

BUT, the primary thing I want is a sense of appropriate resolution. I want to feel that, yes, this is the end. The story doesn't need any more explaining or resolution.

This does not mean that all questions are wrapped up neat, or even that the central conflict is solved. Because often those things are not really the most important things. Sometimes the main character moves throughout a book seeking the solution to a conflict only to reach the end of the book and find they've grown to a point where that resolution is no longer can be left hanging unresolved even while an "appropriate" resolution is reached.

Personally, though, I cannot begin to really write a story without first knowing the ending. Because to me, the ending of a book is FAR more important than the beginning of a book.

People often obsess over the opening sentences of a book. Sure, that's important in a marketing sense. Doing the opening correctly better allows you to grab the reader and suck them in.'s the end of a book that the reader is left with afterwards. A great one hits you hard, leaves you stunned and/or moved. It makes you sit back and say "Wow...Just...WOW." And that's what will make a reader start talking about the book.

The best opening to a novel in the world isn't going to mean crap if the ending sucks. First impressions are important, but final impressions keep people coming back and spreading the word.


message 12: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Eaton | 53 comments Micah you raise an excellent point. One simply cannot ignore the ending or be flippant about it.

At the end of my novel, I brought resolution to the murder in that book, but not a resolution to the overarching reason these people are solving these murders (obviously otherwise my series wouldn't become one). So I think I did satisfy most of your requirements.

However, I love an ending that makes you go, OMG. Or wait, how did I miss THAT? Or, well here we go again (so long as you plan and carry out an again).

This is certainly making me want to give more thought to how I end the next in my series. The challenge with murder mysteries is there is the ending of the murder investigation. But then you have to end the BOOK after that. LOL.

message 13: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Eaton | 53 comments And G.G. I love your ways of adding intrigue in the very last paragraph. Very clever.

Brenda -- my ending did not refer to the beginning of my book but it did refer to a key incident that takes place in the middle of the book. Wondering if that would meet with your approval as well?

message 14: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 491 comments Jeffrey wrote: "However, I love an ending that makes you go, OMG. Or wait, how did I miss THAT?..."

Me too. They usually stay with me for quite a while, and I'm most likely to talk about it later on too.

message 15: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 276 comments some stories i have written backwards. i had a great ending then i was like how did that happen so i work my way back to the beginning. then i read it in order to make sure i didnt miss anything lolz.

message 16: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 429 comments I like and write endings that do not seal the story in a box, put a stamp on it and mail it over to the happy ever after/unhappy ever after/dead land. The endings I prefer are to be both satisfying and ambiguous, logical but unexpected... they should also be rewarding for the reader who stuck with you for the duration of the story. I think that Alfred Bester, Raymond Chandler and Ernest Hemingway, among others, were very good at these sorts of endings. I have light years to travel to reach any of them, naturally, but you can't blame me for trying :)

message 17: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Zigler (toriz) | 2886 comments Jeffrey wrote: "These are all excellent insights I feel. I think what so many authors grapple with is whether they must write an ending that "fits the genre" (causing their book to 'conform' to expectations), or t..."

I think it's OK to play with different endings if they work for the story.

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