Every great story deserves a proper ending.  Have you ever raced through hundreds of pages of text only to be disappointed by a cheesy ending?  Even if the plot runs smoothly until the conclusion, an illogical or abrupt ending will frustrate a reader.   For some writers, concluding a story well is extremely challenging.

This is the song that doesn’t end.

Yes, it goes on and on my friend.

Some people started singing it not knowing what it was,

And they’ll continue singing it forever just because

This is the song that doesn’t end… – Lamb Chop’s Play-Along

Do you remember that song?  Do not start singing it; it is a trap.  The point is, eventually one does want one’s story to end.  What can you do?  Reminisce with me about things from my childhood, and I will share how to develop a great ending.

Follow Every Twist of the Road

Did you ever read a Choose Your Own Adventure  book?  In these novels, the author presents the readers with choices at critical junctures of the plot.  Based on your selection, you turn to a certain page to see what happens.   As a youth, I would always go back and pick another option if I did not like how my previous choice affected the story.  Why not apply the same principle to generate a list of possible endings?  Ask yourself what would happen if this or that occurred.  Pretend to be a reader; how does each ending make you feel about the book and its characters?  Aim to leave them with a positive feeling towards the entire experience of your book.  Additionally, you should endeavor to align the ending with the rest of the book.

Timing is Everything

When should one finish a novel?  Follow Blue’s Clues.  This half-hour show took into consideration the attention spans of its viewers by incorporating pauses.  Ask, who is my target audience?  Next, consider the plot.  Have the major conflicts been resolved?  Must anything else happen to make the plot progression logical?  Get the timing right, and readers will be satisfied.  Cut the story off too early, and readers will feel shortchanged.  Drag the story on too long, and they will lose interest.  Finding the right time is a balancing act.  More than any other time, you will need to exercise your instincts to pick the perfect moment.

Tie the Loose Ends

Lots of authors introduce subplots to make the story realistic.  Real life is full of simultaneous plot twists.  However, one must be cautious with this method.  Loose ends are the easiest way to land your novel in the reject pile when manuscript selection time begins.   If you involve a reader in too many subplots, they become confused and lose the thread of the story.     A reader may be particularly interested in a side gambit, so much so that they will feel let down if you do not resolve it before the novel’s end.  Scooby-Doo never did that; the viewers concentrated on one mystery per episode.

The Other Important Stuff

You came up with a killer ending.  Is your book ready to be evaluated by a publishing house?  No, because no book is complete without editing.   Even great grammarians make mistakes, particularly when they have been concentrating the majority of their mental energy on the ending.  Save time by using proofreading software to help you to identify problems.  Then, any developmental editor that you hire will be free to focus on story flow rather than comma splices.

Do you dream about your novel reaching the bestseller’s list?  Dream bigger!  By crafting an amazing ending, you will gain many eager fans.   Keep the reader in mind when you write the ending to your novel.  Make sure everything makes sense.  If you follow these intriguing allusions to the past, you will have a nice ending.  If not, sing with Lamb Chop.

By Nikolas Baron


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