(This blog entry was scheduled for yesterday. My apologies for its late delivery!)
Endings are the absolute worst for me.
If I screw up a manuscript, it’ll be because of two reasons:
- 1. I’m not delving deeply enough into the characters and it feels like there are scenes missing, or
2. I’ve rushed the ending.
When I read books, the endings that stay with me are those that fulfill everything I wanted to see.
The Happy Ever After, the bad guy is dead/in prison, Our Heroines ride off into the sunset.
The best endings are those that leave me daydreaming about the characters for weeks afterward.
Some that have done that for me are;
- T-Minus-Two, KG MacGregor
The Art of Peeling an Orange, Victoria Avilan
The Deeds of Paksenarrion, Elizabeth Moon
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
Jumper, Steven Gould
While I do attempt to emulate this in my writing, I don’t always succeed.
I have learned a few things from my mistakes though. Here are some things I’ve figured out over the years about endings:
One of my most egregious errors is to bull through the ending as fast as possible.
By the time I’ve reached the last scene of a book, I’ve been with it for several months…sometimes years in my earlier novels!
I don’t want anything to do with the characters.
I’m sick of them, sick of their whining and would rather scrub the toilet (repeatedly) than continue writing them.
Which is funny considering I love my characters. I couldn’t write them otherwise.
However, when I’m two thirds of the way through the current work in progress, I’m usually already scamming on my next novel.
I’d much rather be writing that!
The best fix for this is to simply force myself to continue writing regardless of whether or not another story is calling me. It’s tough, but it has to be done.
Since I’ve begun planning my year’s goals, things have gone better. I refuse to break my schedule when it comes to writing the next project.
If I can’t start the next project until September, I might as well spend August rounding out the current manuscript even though I finished it days ago.
My readers deserve better.
The second lesson is to write a satisfactory ending.
My readers don’t want to hear about one of the main characters dying.
I write romance, for crying out loud! Happy endings are a staple!
There’s got to be a pay-off for the reader. I’ve led them along for chapters and chapters—they deserve to know that everything ends well.
So, smooth over the rough edges of the characters and show forgiveness and caring in their relationship despite the horrors through which they suffered.
In this case, my characters deserve better!
Wrap the Storyline…
This isn’t always easy, especially when you’re just beginning as a writer.
Characters that live and breath tend to have “real” lives. Sometimes it’s difficult for the writer to know when to stop writing.
At the very least, make certain that all your plot points are completed and try not to introduce anything new in the last quarter of the book.
When I submitted The Strange Path to Bella Books, I sold it as the first in a trilogy.
A year later, I sent in the “final” book—Inner Sanctuary. By that point I’d realized I needed another book to actually tie up all the loose ends.
You can probably imagine the number of emails I received from my readers about that one!
A series can be fun to write, but I learned my lesson! Each book must end with the majority of plot points satisfactorily completed.
…Yet Hook the Next Book
And if you are writing a series or a trilogy, remember to put a hook in for the next book.
(Yes, I know. I just told you not in the section above not to introduce anything new in the final quarter of the book. Special circumstances!)
At the end of The Strange Path, I used the appearance of Margaurethe O’Toole as the hook.
One of the final scenes of Beloved Lady Mistress was Whiskey inviting the Agrun Nam to Portland for a pow wow.
The hook doesn’t have to be too extensive…just interesting enough to inspire the reader to want more.
Have a look at the Marvel movies. In the first few you’ll have to wait for the end of the credits, but there are always scenes attached at the tail of the movie to give viewers an idea of what’s coming next.
Conclusion (The Ending?)
Do you have trouble writing endings? How do you get around it?
As a reader, what is the best ending for a book? Do you (dare I ask it?) have any suggestions for me about MY endings?
Click below and leave a comment!
A fan-geek and internet junkie, D Jordan Redhawk is an award winning writer of lesbian romance, writing in multiple genres. She highlights the outsider and reveals that we are not all that different from one another. Her books are published by Bella Books. You can reach Redhawk through her website, Facebook, or become a Patron!