Don’t you just hate it when you are on that last paragraph of a really good book and the ending just falls flat? What about the book that you are so into, but the ending doesn’t tie up all the loose ends – and you’re wondering – say what? Did the author mean to do that? Or what about the ending that absolutely needs that kiss and the couple just stare into each other’s eyes? Ugh, you know the one!
Learning how to end your novel is every bit as important, if not more important, than writing the entire book. It’s so imperative you know what you can and can’t do to write success novel endings that attract agents, publishers and, most important, readers. Go back and look at the books you love, study how those authors used ‘a strong closer.’
Never introduce any new characters or subplots within the last fifty pages. Think ahead and make sure there has been forewarning earlier, even if mysteriously, during those last fifty pages. I would add, never introduce an important character in those last fifty page, no matter how much foreshadowing, it’s just not enough time for the reader to care about them.
I am a dialog girl. I advise not to describe, ponder, clarify or theorize. Keep explanations and descriptions to a minimum, but maximize dialog, action, and conflict. You have loaded the gun, now run for your life!
Think about it this way – you must create a sense of breathless– what next? Your best novelties and biggest surprises should go here. Readers love it when some early, trivial detail plays a part in the finale. One or more of those things need to show up here as decisive elements.
Do enmesh your reader deeply in the outcome. Get her so involved that she cannot put down your novel to go to bed, to work or even to the bathroom until she sees how it turns out.
DO Resolve the central conflict. You don’t have to provide a happily-ever-after ending, but do try to uplift. Readers want to be uplifted, and editors try to give readers what they want.
Do Afford redemption to your heroic character. No matter how many mistakes she has made along the way, allow the reader—and the character—to realize that, in the end, she has done the right thing.
Do Tie up loose ends of significance. Every question you planted in a reader’s mind should be addressed, even if the answer is to say that a character will address that issue later, after the book ends.
Do Mirror your final words to events in your opener. When you begin a journey of writing a novel, already having established a destination, it’s much easier to make calculated detours, twists and turns in your storytelling tactics. When you reach the ending, go back to ensure some element in each of your complications will point to it. It’s the tie-back tactic. You don’t have to telegraph the finish. Merely create a feeling that the final words hearken to an earlier moment in the story.
Don’t change voice, tone or attitude. An ending will feel tacked on if the voice of the narrator suddenly sounds alien to the voice that’s been consistent for the previous 80,000 words.
Don’t resort to gimmicks. No quirky twists or trick endings. You’re at the end of your story, and if your reader has stuck with you the whole time, it’s because you’ve engaged her, because she has participated. The final impression you want to create is a positive one. Don’t leave your reader feeling tricked or cheated.