By: Janice Hardy
Because they answer the story questions we posed to hook our readers in the first place. If that answer isn't satisfying, the book won't be satisfying.
Let's look at some ways to craft the right ending for our stories.
Make Readers Want to get to the Ending
In order to care about how a story ends, readers have to first care about the characters and the problem at hand. To do this we:
- Give them a problem/mystery/question they want to know the answer to
- Make the journey to get there interesting, and reward them with bits of information and new mysteries about that problem along the way
- Give them characters interesting enough to make them invest time in them
The ending satisfies the promise we make at the start of the novel. Readers pick up a book because it sounds like a story they want to read for X reason. Somewhere in the cover blurb is that reason. It poses a question or describes a situation and the reader wants to discover the answer to that question or explore that situation. They want to see the murder solved, the star-crossed lovers united, join the adventure to find the Holy Grail, hang out with the kooky ladies that share life wisdom. Whatever the genre or market there’s a point to the book.
One quick note here: This point is not the theme. It’s an external plot. No one goes to a superhero movie to remind themselves that truth, justice and the American way prevail over evil. They go to see heroes kick butt and stop the bad guys’ plot. The theme makes all that plot stuff matter and helps us craft a more satisfying ending, but it’s not the point of the book. A theme isn’t a plot. A theme helps craft the plot.
Even if the point of the book is the character growth, it’s still about something happening. Will that person change? Will they realize something? They might discover “love conquers all” but they do that by experiencing an external plot that changes them. They don’t just decide to change and then change. Something external triggers than internal change.
Make Sure the Ending is Surprising, Yet Inevitable
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