The Sense Of An Ending - How To End Your Book

People watch sport to be entertained and to see who wins and loses. What they dislike is a draw. Readers are the same.

Readers of commercial fiction want to see a winner at the end. Readers of literary fiction are prepared to accept more ambiguity. In either case, the ending must be powerful. Great endings leave the reader satisfied, even if the rest of the book is weak. Weak endings leave the reader disappointed, even if the book was good.

Most of us can write a good beginning. The middle is the most difficult part of a book, but a good ending is essential.

A great ending always:

  1. Completes your story arc
  2. Shows a change in your main character
  3. Satisfies your reader

Sometimes the best stories are the ones that leave you guessing, so don’t be afraid to create some mystery in your conclusion. However, you should make sure the story feels as if it is finished.

You should not work in an artificial twist, or a surprise, in the end, unless the story justifies it. Try not to force the story in a direction. Decide what could or should be the most logical and natural outcome, given the personalities of the characters involved. Do not make them do things they would not naturally do.

The goal is to write a story that leaves your reader looking for your name at the end.

There are five basic endings:

  1. The protagonist wins
  2. The protagonist loses
  3. We don’t know if the protagonist wins or loses
  4. The protagonist wins, but at a moral cost 
  5. The protagonist loses, but with a moral gain

You should decide which ending best suits your story.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter

© Amanda Patterson

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12 responses
Hi Amanda, you post so many valuable tips and useful information. Will you mind if I translate it into Afrikaans and share it with my friends? I will always indicate you/Writers Write as the source of information should you give consent.
Hi Marietjie Please email news@writerswrite.co.za with this request. Thank you
National Lampoon magazine always recommended having a big truck come around the corner and run over everybody. ;)
Your tips are commendable. I've learnt so much.
Thank you!
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