Thursday, May 14, 2009

The End???

I'm at the beginning of the end of Untouched, and I'm coming across some difficulties. It's incredibly hard to write. I always figured the end would be the easiest part of the ms to write- it's the close of the story, no need to build dramatic tension and throw out crazy plot twists, it's time to wrap everything up and give it a nice, satisfying ending that leaves room for the sequel. Right?

Um, no. Not even. So much plot and action, and dynamic character changes occur, it looks like it's going to be a bit trickier than I foolishly assumed.

But I came across this! It's more about the final parting sentence, rather then the last quarter or so of a novel, but helpful nonetheless.

How to End Your Novel

Have you ever read a book with an unsatisfying ending? Annoying, isn’t it? You’ve just read this exciting, emotionally draining and captivating novel, then arrived at the end only to be left hanging on the edge of a precipice. What happened to the characters? Were all of the problems resolved? The ending to a novel is almost as important as the beginning.

How to End Your Novel with Dialogue Some of the most wonderful novels have ended with dialogue. The main character says something witty or funny, and you close the book feeling like all has ended well. Dialogue can be a powerful way to end your novel as long as you do it creatively.

The best type of dialogue with which to end a novel is closure; the last phrase gives both the reader and the characters a sense of finality, which signals that the story is over. You’ll see this done fairly often in movies, and it can be just as attractive at the end of a novel.

Just make sure, if you end your novel with dialogue, that you haven’t left any questions unanswered, and that the previous prose brought the story to a close. Personally, ending a novel with a question seems cheap, as though you are cheating the reader.

How to End Your Novel with Prose This is the most popular way to end a novel because it allows the author to say everything that needs to be said. For example, you can end your novel with an Epilogue that explains what happened after the final scene in your novel. It can project days, months or years in the future, which is especially helpful in a romance novel.

If, however, your novel does not require an epilogue, you can simply bring it to a close in the present. The characters have solved the mystery or thwarted the great evil, which means that there isn’t anything left to say. It’s better to end your novel with a bang than to drone on with meaningless and senseless words that only serve to leave your reader with a bad taste in his or her mouth.

How to End Your Novel with a Cliffhanger There is only one instance in which this is acceptable, and that is when you have planned a sequel to your novel. Often, trilogies will end the first two novels with a cliffhanger, which ensures that your readers will purchase the next installment.

You have to be careful not to anger your readers, however, because if they are frustrated at the end of the novel, they’ll simply give up on you as a writer. My best advice is to tie up all of the loose ends – save one – and leave the reader wanting more. A novel – even one with a sequel – that doesn’t answer any of the reader’s questions will be frustrating, and you might lose their interest.


  1. Ugh. I feel your pain. I'm at about 55k words of about 65--and I'm already starting to think about how I'm going to end this thing...what I'm going to do about it, how to tie in all the threads. It's seriously the hardest bit!!

  2. Or you could just be succinct in your ending like Shakespeare:

    "He dies."

    Sometimes thats enough. No grand finale, no great speeches, just an ending. I don't think its too bad to let the reader imagine or extrapolate from what is on the page, as long as you've put in enough good content before that. Everything is dependent though, on how well you developed the story up to that point. Good post.

  3. Endings are tough. Good luck coming up with a good one. Usually time helps because it gives you a chance to really reflect on everything you've written up to this point. I'm notoriously bad with endings...and beginnings. My books are fat in the middle. :)

    Thanks for the list!

  4. This is an awesome post for new writers like me. It provides insight on "what is yet to come" when I get to that point. I will know before hand that each part has its own unique challenges. Thanks for sharing this very thought-provoking post.