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19 of the Best Books of 2021
A bookworm is happiest when they’re surrounded by books — both old and new. Undoubtedly, 2021 was a great year for both fiction and nonfiction, with bestsellers like Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and Second Place by Rachel Cusk. Whether you read memoirs or young-adult (YA) novels, 2021 was a fantastic year for book lovers. While we can’t squeeze in all of our favorites from 2021, we’ve rounded up a stellar sampling of must-reads. Here’s some of the year’s best books.
“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner
In her profound memoir Crying in H Mart , Michelle Zauner shares an unflinching view of growing up as a Korean American person — all while reflecting on losing her mother to terminal cancer. Author Dani Shapiro notes that the Japanese Breakfast musician “has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief.”
“The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr.
In Robert Jones, Jr.’s lyrical debut novel, The Prophets , Isaiah and Samuel are two enslaved young men who find refuge in each other — and their love becomes both sustaining and heroic in the face of a vicious world. Entertainment Weekly writes that “While The Prophets’ dreamy realism recalls the work of Toni Morrison… Its penetrating focus on social dynamics stands out more singularly.” Now that’s a compliment.
“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman
At President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Amanda Gorman read her electrifying poem, “ The Hill We Climb .” Since then, it has been praised for its call for unity and healing. Vogue captures the feeling of reading the poem well, calling it “deeply rousing and uplifting.”
“Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney
New York Times bestselling author Sally Rooney has returned with a sharp, romantic drama, Beautiful World, Where Are You . Two separate relationships are in chaos, threatening to ruin friendships. Vogue declares that the author has “invented a sensibility entirely of her own: Sunny and sharp.”
“Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir” by Ashley C. Ford
Ashley C. Ford’s coming-of-age memoir, Somebody’s Daughter , centers on her childhood. Ford, a Black girl who grew up poor in Indiana, recounts how her family was fragmented by her father’s incarceration. With rich, unflinching writing, Ford has penned a debut for the ages. The memoir’s publisher perhaps puts the core of the book best, noting that Ford “embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.”
“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo
Everyone remembers their first all-consuming love — and for Lily Hu, the teenage protagonist of Malinda Lo’s queer YA novel, that love is Kathleen Miller. Set in the 1950s in San Francisco, Last Night at the Telegraph Club is not just one of the year’s best, but one of Lo’s best. O: The Oprah Magazine notes that the novel is “proof of Lo’s skill at creating darkly romantic tales of love in the face of danger.”
“¡Hola Papi!” by John Paul Brammer
In his memoir, ¡H ola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons , advice columnist John Paul Brammer delves into his experiences growing up as a queer, biracial person. The Los Angeles Times writes that “Brammer’s writing is incredibly funny, kind, and gracious to his readers, and deeply vulnerable in a way that makes it feel as if he’s talking to only you” — and we couldn’t agree more.
“Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers
In Morgan Rogers’ novel Honey Girl , Grace Porter is an overachiever — and certainly not the type of person to marry a stranger in Las Vegas. Or, at least, she didn’t think she was that type of person. As Grace navigates the messiness of adulthood, Rogers takes us on a journey that’s both heartfelt and unflinching, illustrating that love is all about risks — even when it comes to loving ourselves.
“Aftershocks: A Memoir” by Nadia Owusu
Nadia Owusu’s memoir, Aftershocks , reflects on her experience of being abandoned by her parents at a young age. Entertainment Weekly notes that “Owusu dispatches all of this heartache with blistering honesty but does so with prose light enough that it never feels too much to bear.”
“Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro
What if an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant had feelings? In Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel, Klara and the Sun , Klara is an Artificial Friend who wonders if friendship is possible. The Financial Times called the Never Let Me Go author’s latest “a deft dystopian fable about the innocence of a robot that asks big questions about existence.”
“100 Boyfriends” by Brontez Purnell
Brontez Purnell’s romantic, intoxicating book, 100 Boyfriends , is a look at the romantic lives of queer men who are striving to find out not just where they belong, but where they can shine. Author Bryan Washington praised the collection, writing that “Each story in 100 Boyfriends is a minor eclipse: stunning in scope, technically blinding, and entirely miraculous.”
“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston
In Casey McQuiston’s big-hearted romance novel, One Last Stop , August meets Jane on a New York City subway — but she doesn’t realize just how fateful their chance encounter is at first. New York Magazine called the novel “an earnest reminder that home — whether that means a time, a place, or a person — is worth fighting for,” and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the Red, White & Royal Blue author.
“Afterparties: Stories” by Anthony Veasna So
In Afterparties , Anthony Veasna So weaves together tenderhearted stories about the lives of several Cambodian American characters. Although the stories vary quite a bit in terms of content, author George Saunders writes that they are all “powered by So’s skill with the telling detail,” and are much like “…beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community.”
“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Malibu Rising , readers meet four famous siblings as they throw their annual end-of-summer party in Malibu. However, over the course of 24 hours, family drama ensues. The Washington Post calls this read “a fast-paced, engaging novel that smoothly transports readers.”
“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” by Joan Didion
Between 1968 and 2000, award-winning journalist and essayist Joan Didion wrote 12 pieces about a variety of well-known figures, ranging from Ernest Hemingway and Nancy Reagan to Martha Stewart. Now, these works have been gathered in the essay collection Let Me Tell You What I Mean . Bret Easton Ellis writes that Didion’s “prose remains peerless,” so, if you’re a fan of the iconic writer, this is a must-read.
“Intimacies” by Katie Kitamura
Intimacies is Katie Kitamura’s fourth novel, following 2017’s critically acclaimed A Separation . In it, an interpreter for the International Court at the Hague gets drawn into a political scandal after agreeing to translate for a former world leader and potential criminal. The novel is a fascinating investigation into the instability of language and how it influences identity. Dana Spiotta describes Intimacies as “a haunting, precise, and morally astute novel that reads like a psychological thriller.”
“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters
In Detransition, Baby , Torrey Peters tells a witty and nuanced story about partnership, parenthood and identity. About the novel, Ginny Hogan from the New York Times states “[Detransition, Baby upends] our traditional, gendered notions of what parenthood can look like.”
“Second Place” by Rachel Cusk
In Rachel Cusk’s novel Second Place , a follow up to her brilliant Outline trilogy, a woman invites an artist she admires to live in her remote guesthouse for the summer. As the stay unfolds, a series of unexpected events spurs revelations about womanhood, marriage and security. About Second Place , Jenny Singer from Glamour writes “there is mayhem; surprising sweetness and brilliant observations tumble from every page.”
“Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore ” by Dan Ozzi
In Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore , rock critic Dan Ozzi traces the stories of eleven separate bands that transitioned from the indie scene to achieve mainstream success in the ‘90s. Including interviews and anecdotes from bands like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Blink-182, this is a must-read for any music lover.
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Posted on Apr 13, 2020
How to End a Story Right: 13 Tips Every Author Should Know
Whether you have the final scenes of your book worked out from the moment you put pen to paper or it comes to you in the weeds of writing a story , there’s one thing every writer needs to master to leave a lasting impression on readers: how to end a story.
Writing the ending can be a source of anxiety for a lot of authors. After all, you don’t want to finish a great story with a weak ending and disappoint your readers. To help you effectively bring your novel to a close, this post will cover six popular types of endings found in literature, and provide seven tips (including some from professional editors! ) that show that ending a book doesn't have to be hard.
Six Types of Endings (and what they're used for)
The ending has an enormous impact on how (and if) readers will remember your book in years to come. If they are dissatisfied at the closing of the final chapter, they won’t likely read it again or share it with others. While the start of your story might convince people to read your book in the first place, the end is what will determine if they turn from a reader into a fan.
Of course there’s no universally right or wrong endings. Art is subjective, after all, and every reader will like different things. However, writers must consider reader expectations — and whether their story is best served by meeting or subverting those expectations.
A few things to consider when trying to determine reader expectations are:
- Plot structure
- Target audience
- Theme and overall message
In genre, for example, there are many people who don’t consider something a true romance book until it ends with a happily ever after (or at least a “happy for now”). If you’re following the Hero’s Journey true to form, your protagonist will end up back in the same location that they started from, but transformed by their experiences. Children are going to have quite a different set of expectations from a book than adult readers. And of course, your theme and the takeaway you want readers to have will determine whether subverting or meeting their expectations is likely to go over well. (Just make sure that your subverted endings are still true to the characters, plot, and themes that you’ve established, lest you give readers such a curve ball that they won’t be able to follow what you were going for!)
Understanding the most common ways other writers end stories will help you no matter which approach you’d like to take, so let’s examine some of the most common types of endings out there, and why they work.
1. Resolved Ending
Wrap it up and put a bow on it. A resolved ending answers all the questions and ties up any loose plot threads. There is nothing more to tell because the characters’ fates are clearly presented to the reader.
Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude provides a great example of a resolved ending. In his Nobel Prize-winning book, García Márquez intertwines the tale of the Buendia family and the small town where they live, from its creation until its destruction. [Caution: spoilers ahead!]
Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.
With this ending, García Márquez effectively ends all hope of a sequel by destroying the entire town and killing off all the characters. Unlike a Deus Ex Machina ending, where everything is suddenly and abruptly resolved , this is an ending that fits with the themes and plot of this book. Though it is not exactly expected, it brings an appropriate closure to the Buendia family and the town of Macondo.
When might you use a resolved ending? This sort of conclusion is common to standalone books — especially romance novels, which thrive on ‘happily ever afters’ — or the final installment in a series.
2. Unresolved Ending
This type of ending asks more questions than it answers and, ideally, leaves the reader wanting to know how the story is going to continue. It lets them reflect on what the hero has been through and pushes them to imagine what is still to happen. There will be some resolution, but it will, most likely, pose questions at the end and leave some doors open.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince does exactly that. After years of confronting Voldemort, Harry finally knows the secret to bring him down once and for all, however, the road will only become more dangerous and will require more sacrifices than anybody thought. [More spoilers!]
His hand closed automatically around the fake Horcrux, but in spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.
Like Harry, readers are aware that a final meeting between him and Voldemort is coming, and that everything is about to change for him and his friends. As a stand-alone book, this ending would probably be unsatisfactory. But as the penultimate book in the series, it leaves the readers wanting for more.
When might you use an unresolved ending? Because it can create anticipation and excitement for what comes next, you may want to use an unresolved ending if you are writing a series of books . Who doesn’t love (and hate) a good cliffhanger?
3. Ambiguous Ending
An ambiguous ending leaves the reader wondering about the “what ifs.” Instead of directly stating what happens to the characters after the book ends, it allows the reader to speculate about what might come next — without establishing a right or wrong answer. Things don't feel quite unresolved , more just open to interpretation.
The first installment of The Giver series, by Lois Lowry, makes use of this ending. The Giver focuses on Jonas, a teenager living in a colorless yet seemingly ideal society, and on the way he uses his newly assigned position as the Receiver of Memories to unravel the truth about his community and forge a new path for himself. [Caution: spoilers!]
Downward, downward, faster, faster. Suddenly he was aware with certainty and joy that below, ahead, they were waiting for him; and that they were waiting, too, for the baby. For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.
Readers will wonder what happened to Jonas once he finishes his journey, and what happens to the town and people he left behind. There are three more companion books with more plot points , but the story centering on Jonas is finished. Readers will see him again, but only as a side character, and will neither find out how he rebuilt his life nor how his old community fared. There might be speculation, but an answer is never clearly given: that is left to the imagination.
When might you use an ambiguous ending? If you want your readers to reflect on the meaning of your book, then this is the ending for you. While a resolved ending may satisfy readers, it probably won’t give them much pause at all. However, by trying to unpick an ambiguous ending they get closer to what you as the author are trying to say.
4. Unexpected Ending
If you have led your readers to believe that your book will end one way, but at the last possible moment you add a plot twist that they didn’t see coming, you’ve got yourself an unexpected ending! For an author, this type of ending can be a thrill to write, but it must be handled with care. Handled poorly, it will frustrate and infuriate your reader.
An unexpected ending must be done in such a way that, while surprising, still makes sense and brings a satisfactory conclusion.
A popular novel that makes use of this ending is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie , where she tells the tale of ten murders without an obvious culprit that took place in an isolated island mansion. [Spoilers coming!] The last lines of the novel read:
When the sea goes down, there will come from the mainland boats and men. And they will find ten dead bodies and an unsolved problem on Soldier Island. Signed: Lawrence Wargrave
The ways in which the murders occur lets the reader suspect guilt of just about every character — and then in an epic twist, they all die in the end, leaving the murders unexplained. It is not until the message in the bottle arrives that the true culprit is revealed, as one of the victims no less! The ending is satisfactory to the reader because it brings the plot to a close in a way that, though surprising, invites them to think back on how the murderer set things up for the remaining deaths, and ultimately makes sense.
When might you use an unexpected ending? These ‘twist endings’ are the bread and butter of mystery novels . Just be aware that while fans of the genre will expect a twist — they won't want one that comes entirely out of nowhere. To execute a flawless unexpected ending, you must lay groundwork throughout your book, so that the reader can reflect on the plot and go, “ah, but of course!”
5. Tied Ending
Much of storytelling is cyclical. Sometimes it’s a metaphorical return home, such as in The Hero’s Journey . In other cases, the cycle is quite literal — the story ends where it began.
Erin Morgenstern uses this ending in her book The Night Circus , where she tells of a duel between two magicians that takes place within Le Cirque des Rêves , a traveling circus and, arguably, a character on its own. [Spoilers!]
Widget takes a sip of his wine and puts his glass down on the table. He sits back in his chair and steadily return the stare at him. Taking his time as though he has all of it in the world, in the universe, from the days when tales meant more than they do now, but perhaps less than they will someday, he draws a breath that releases the tangled knot of words in his heart, and they fall from his lips effortlessly. ‘The circus arrives without warning.’
With what may be the most famous lines of the book, “The circus arrives without warning,” this novel closes the characters’ storylines the same way the book begins. In both cases, the words are used to start telling a story; in the beginning, it serves as an introduction to the book, the words filled with wonder and expectation. At the end, it serves as a resolution, the words filled with hope for those who remain. Additionally, Morgenstern later uses a few more pages to finish the second person narrative of the reader’s own visit to the circus, effectively ending the novel with the same point of view that it began.
When might you use a tied ending? More common in literary fiction, a tied ending can help give you a sense of direction when writing your book — after all, you are ending the same way you began. But don’t think that this makes writing your ending easier. On the contrary, it is up to you to give greater depth to those repeated actions and events so that, by the end, they have a completely different feel.
6. Expanded Ending
Also known as an epilogue , this type of ending describes what happens to the world of the story afterward in a way that hints at the characters' fates at some point in the future.
In Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief , Death himself narrates the story of a young girl living in Nazi Germany. In his four-part epilogue, Zusak gives the reader an insight into what happened to Liesel after the bombing, her adult life, and even her death. [Spoilers!]
All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said to the book thief and I say it now to you. *** A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR*** I am hunted by humans.
Instead of going into great detail, Zusak uses short chapters that feel more like sneak peeks into her life. Additionally, it serves the purpose of joining Liesel, the main character, with the narrator, Death, and allowing them to have a conversation on more equal terms.
When might you use an expanded ending? If you need to tie up loose ends but were not able to do it within the actual story, then this is the ending for you. However, it should not take the place of a traditional ending or be used to compensate for a weak ending. Instead, it should give further insight into the characters and give a resolution to the readers.
Seven Tips to Craft the Perfect Ending
Now that you understand what kind of endings there are, let’s start thinking about how to create them for yourself! We’ve compiled expert knowledge for sticking the landing, so you can create an ending that will linger in people's minds long after they've read your book.
1. Find your ending in the beginning
While your story may contain several different threads and subplots, all books are going to have a central question that’s raised by the opener. Who killed the boss? Will our star-crossed lovers end up together? Can a rag-tag group of heroes really save the world? Is there meaning to a middle-class existence? Can this family’s relationship be saved?
Your central question is the driving force of what will happen in the plot, so make sure you settle it by the time the book ends. Even if your hero's story continues in a sequel, you’ll want each book to have a central question, and a resolution, for them to feel complete.
2. Completion goes hand-in-hand with hope
Literary agent Estelle Laure explains that a great ending is one that gives the reader both a feeling of completion and hope.
“You have to assume the character has gone through hell, so let them see something beautiful about the world that allows them to take a breath and step into the next adventure. Even your ending should leave your reader dying for more. They should close the book with a sigh, and that’s the best way I know how to get there. This is, after all, a cruel but wondrous life.”
3. Keep things fresh
This is good advice for every stage of writing, but perhaps nowhere is it more important than the ending. While there are certain genres where a type of ending is expected (romances should end with a happily ever after, mysteries with identifying the killer), you don’t want people to be able to see everything coming from miles off. So even if the payoff from the big resolution is expected, as the writer you’ll want to think hard to find ways to keep things fresh and interesting. To achieve this, try to dig deeper than your first impulse because, chances are, that’s also going to be your audience’s first impulse as well. You don’t necessarily need to subvert that expectation, but it will give you some hints as to what most people think will happen.
4. Make sure it’s really finished
To create a satisfying ending, close your book with purpose.
As Publishing Director of Endeavor Media, Jasmin Kirkbride’s biggest tip is to make sure you follow the rule of Chekhov’s Gun : “Every subplot and all the different strands of your main plot should reach satisfying, clear conclusions. If they are meant to be left ambiguously, ensure your reader knows this, and create something out of that uncertainty.”
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5. Last impressions matter
In some ways, the final line of a story is even more important than the first one. It’s the last impression you’re going to make in your reader’s mind, and the final takeaway of the whole book. Hone in on what kind of emotions you’d like your reader to feel as they close the book, and ask yourself what kind of image or concluding thought would best convey that. Not sure what that should be? Try looking at your book’s theme! Often the final image is the summation of everything your theme has been building.
6. Come full circle
Editor Jenn Bailey says that a good ending brings the book’s internal and external story arcs to a rational conclusion: “You need to come full circle. You need to end where you began. You need to take the truth your main character believed in at the beginning of the story and expose it as the lie that it is by the end. In your ending, the main character doesn’t have to get what they want, but they do have to get what they need.” For more about character arcs, check out this post !
7. Leave some things unsaid
There’s a balance to endings — too little resolution and your book will feel rushed and unsatisfying, but too much and the denouement starts to drag. In general, though, you want to keep things brief, especially if you want room for an epilogue. It’s okay to trust your readers to reach some conclusions on their own, rather than spending whole chapters making sure every question you raised is answered. But, if do you really want everything tied off, consider moving the resolution of some of your subplots to just before the climax. This avoids jamming everything into the last five pages, allowing your subplots space to breathe.
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As we have seen, there are many methods for ending stories! However you decide to finish your novel, there is one thing that you should always keep in mind: take account of the story that came before and give it the ending that it needs, not the one you think readers want, and it will be satisfactory for all.
What is your favorite way to end a story? Or do you have a favorite closing passage? Tell us in the comments below!
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Table of Contents
What a Good Ending Should Do
What the end of the book should not do, how to end a book (and get readers talking about it), great conclusion examples, how to write a book conclusion (& end your story the right way).
Here’s the thing about ending your book the right way:
If the reader got all the way to the conclusion, that means they read the whole book , they liked it, and now they want to wrap this up.
So don’t ramble on and on. Give them what they want.
The goal of a great ending is to tie everything together, neatly summarize your book, and then provide a specific call or calls to action for your reader.
Don’t overcomplicate the conclusion—just let it do its job, and it’ll work great.
- Clearly summarize the book: That’s the best thing you can do, not only to deliver value to the reader but also to make the book memorable (and recommendable).
- Address any lingering issues and close any open loops: The reader should feel like everything is wrapped up in a bow.
- Provide a call to action: In essence, tell the reader what to do.
- Give even more: Point them to any additional resources you have that could help them.
- A conclusion should NOT introduce any new content: This should only be a summarization of what’s in the book. You can have new stories or anecdotes, of course.
- A conclusion should not be too long: The rule of thumb is that it should be the shortest chapter in your book.
- A conclusion should not break faith with the reader: Don’t tell them “operators are standing by” or try to sell them in a preposterous way that turns them off.
At Scribe, we like to outline the conclusion using this template:
- Grab the reader with a great hook
- Restate the book’s thesis
- Summarize the chapters
- Call to action: what should the reader do when they finish the book?
This is one of the most important writing tips for any Author:
Every chapter should start with a hook. Even the last one.
This can be a story that summarizes the book, or you can close a loop from earlier in the book. But the point is, the reader should feel like they do at the end of a good movie, where everything feels nicely summarized with a satisfying ending.
By this time, you’ve mentioned a lot of different topics. Usually, the easiest and most compelling way to begin the conclusion is by referring back to one (or more) of them. Or you can add another dimension to a story you already told or tie up loose ends.
2. Restate the book’s mission/thesis
This is pretty simple, but make sure you restate the book’s thesis. From the first chapter to the final chapter, your book’s primary message should be consistent.
3. Summarize chapters
This is optional, but most good nonfiction books do this. They summarize the key points so succinctly and clearly that the reader can’t help but understand your lessons the same way that you do.
You want the reader to think about and talk about your book to their friends the same way you would if you could be there yourself. The best way to make sure they do that is to tell them exactly what to say.
That’s what this section is for.
Specifically, it’s about nailing whatever you want your readers to remember about your book. What are the takeaways that really matter? How do you want them to talk about them?
If your book is a memoir, your conclusion also needs to complete your story arc, tying up any plot threads and subplots in your storyline so you don’t leave any cliffhangers.
You might not summarize the plot points of each chapter literally, but you still want to remind your readers of the journey.
4. Call to action
What’s the first thing you want your reader to do when they finish the last word and put the book down? This is usually the final word, and it’s what you should leave them with on the final page.
Note on the call to action
A call to action (CTA) is not required in a conclusion, but most nonfiction books have them. It’s usually the very last bit of the conclusion, the final word to readers, and it ensures they know what you want them to do.
Authors generally adopt a different tone with the CTA—one that’s not just more explicitly inspirational but that’s also framed as an imperative. The underlying message of the call to action is straightforward and empowering: now that you have all the tools, go out there and use them.
This is good, and readers tend to like it. Some authors feel uncomfortable including such a direct appeal to readers because they may feel it’s unprofessional, and they can be right (sometimes).
Authors often want to be too inspirational in the introduction, and not enough in the conclusion. But this is when you can really tell your reader what to do, and be very direct.
What you do not want to do is write a glorified sales brochure. The last thing you want to do here is try to pitch them something of yours to buy.
Think about it—you’ve spent the whole book earning their trust, and now you ruin it with a bad ending that tries to sell them?
Don’t do that. Most importantly because it doesn’t work very well.
Readers are smart. They’re interested in your topic because they’ve picked up your book. If they’ve made it this far, then they’ve already read an entire book’s worth of your knowledge and expertise.
They can form their own conclusions when it comes to contacting you.
That said, if you do want to suggest they contact you, do so authentically—from a place of trying to help them , not yourself. Tell them you want to hear from them, or that you want to help them move forward.
If your website or the name of your firm is in your bio or About the Author page , that’s sufficient. Give them your email in the conclusion if you like—but only if you’re sincere about responding to them.
Ultimately, your goal is to provide so much value to them that they respect and admire you and your work, and choose to contact you because they have sold themselves on wanting to, not because you sold them.
Some authors want a more explicit CTA, such as directing readers of the book to a specific landing page. This can work, as long as the page you’re directing them to gives the reader something.
But it has to be something they’ll see as extra, not something they’ll feel should have been in the book. For example, a map or chart that is additive, but not crucial, to the content is great.
What you don’t want to do is give them something on a landing page that makes them think, “Why isn’t this in the book?” That just breaks faith with the reader.
1. Syndicating is a B*tch, by Bruce Petersen
“The most tangible stress of managing a syndication deal happens prior to close. You’re taking care of a lot of moving pieces and are responsible for a lot of money for a lot of people, and that’s a lot. Once the deal closes, that’s it. There’s not a lot happening at that point.
That doesn’t mean the stress has ended. The more experience you gain doing deals, the more prepared you’re going to be for the weird things that come up—and something will always come up. Remember when I lost $5.2 million to OFAC? I was completely blindsided that first time, and as I’m writing this book, it happened again. Yep.”
This is a fantastic example of how to start a well-structured conclusion. The author leads by talking about closing a deal, just as he’s closing his book. There’s a parallel structure there that orients the reader to the end of the book.
He also refers back to something that happened earlier in the book, then leads into a story about the same thing happening again. The new story hooks the reader while reminding them of an important point he made earlier.
2. Breakthrough Leadership Team, by Mike Goldman
“You’ve just finished reading this book, and your head is swimming with ideas. You’re probably wondering, Where do I begin?
I suggest you start by measuring where you are in your journey toward becoming a Breakthrough Leadership Team …”
Here, again, the opening lines of the conclusion orient the reader, signaling to them that they have reached the final chapter. In this case, the Author jumps immediately into helping the reader figure out what to do next.
The title of this final chapter, by the way, is “Call to Action.” It’s the theme of the whole chapter, reminding the reader of their journey throughout the book and suggesting what to do next.
3. Beyond Wins, by Mala Subramaniam
“Did the book address questions posed in the OpeningThoughts?
Why do I feel like I am on a seesaw of wins and losses in my business negotiations? Even when I win, I sometimes feel like I lost something. Tools and techniques I picked up in books and training are not foreign, so what am I missing? What will put me on the path to success? What Is the yardstick for success?
It did for Paula of the Adrift Website Case, which is a real success story.”
This Author begins her conclusion by returning to and listing the questions she asked at the beginning. As the book ends, she reminds the reader of where the journey started, then immediately leads into a new story.
While you shouldn’t introduce new concepts in a conclusion, new stories that drive key concepts home are a great way to leave the reader with a memorable application of what they’ve learned.
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How to end a book: 8 tips for a rewarding read
If you want to become a better author, learning how to end a book well is crucial. After the final page, the reader shouldn’t feel how Dorothy Parker did when she (allegedly) wrote in a review, ‘This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force’. Here are 8 tips to write better story endings:
- Post author By Bridget McNulty
- 3 Comments on How to end a book: 8 tips for a rewarding read
Build to an intriguing climax
Make sure your ending is earned, not improbable, leave room for readers’ imaginations.
- Review the best novel endings for insight into how to end a book
Bring home how your characters have changed
Use the ‘5 w’s’ to create finality, keep in mind how not to end a novel.
- Think about story ending types that would suit your book
Let’s examine each of these points in more detail:
A great ending is all in the build-up. A taut climax isn’t equally important for every genre. A novel that relies on twists, turns and tension (a murder mystery or thriller, for example) will require a stronger build-up.
Books that aren’t as reliant on suspense, such as romance novels, also benefit from a satisfying build-up. Placing complications between your would-be lovers that get in the way of their happy union until the final hour keeps readers interested in what will happen next.
How do you build to a climactic novel ending ?
- Make it harder for characters to reach their objectives – what stands in their way?
- If applicable to your story, increase characters’ peril.
- Vary pace – write shorter scenes and chapters to increase momentum.
- Keep the largest confrontations between characters for your final chapters. Hint at their approach.
A story with an improbable ending is frustrating because it rings untrue. Usually the ending that makes sense follows the simple logic of cause and effect.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot have an outlandish, fantastical or unexpected ending. There are very few absolute rules when it comes to writing fiction. Yet laying groundwork for your ending and building the anticipation of a specific outcome (even if the outcome itself proves different to what you’ve led readers to expect) creates a sense of direction and objective.
An irritatingly unlikely ending may result if you get yourself into tricky tangle in your plot. Many fictional characters are a little too lucky and are saved by the bell. Be careful of letting a strong sense of cause and effect slip away in your closing chapters for the sake of convenient resolution.
An ending doesn’t have to be the last nail in your character’s coffin. Many readers were frustrated by J.K. Rowling’s epilogue [no spoilers] to her Harry Potter series.
Rowling’s prologue leapt forward in time, like the ‘where are they now’ segments that roll with the credits in documentaries. For some, this seemed a ploy on Rowling’s part. It seemed a device to announce there would be no more novels in the series (or, at least, novels about her three main characters’ student years).
Story endings that leave room for readers’ imaginations are enjoyable because readers get to picture what comes next, without being told. A little mystery, a little bit of incompletion remains.
This is especially important when you write series . Make sure that your final chapters convey a sense of something new developing or beginning, even as this particular narrative thread draws to a close. A serial killer anti-hero, for example, is witnessed disposing of evidence by an unknown observer.
Review the best novel endings for insights into how to end a book
The best novel endings are masterclasses in how to end a book. Think of the closing lines to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby , for example:
‘And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. […] Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther … And one fine morning — So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’
Fitzgerald’s ending, where his narrator Nick Carraway muses on everything he has learned about his mysterious neighbour Gatsby (and life in general), is compact and powerful. The tone, like much of the rest of the novel, is elegiac and nostalgic. The ending reminds us of the events of the novel while simultaneously looking to the future.
When you write your ending, pick up a few of your favourite books. Read the final paragraphs. Note:
- How the book’s ending connects to preceding chapters (does it repeat memorable imagery from earlier? What is ending-like about its language or ideas?)
- The tone of the ending – does it fit with everything that precedes it?
Story lies in change. Showing how your characters have changed at the end of your novel as they’ve reached (or fallen short of) their objectives creates a satisfying sense of development.
In the example from The Great Gatsby above, Fitzgerald’s narrator and protagonist Carraway has learned that a person’s past can dog him but he still has to keep moving forwards – ‘tomorrow, we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther’. There is a note of resolve and determination to keep persisting despite Carraway’s awareness that history tends to repeat itself.
In your novel’s closing chapters, show how your characters have changed. What have they learned and how have they grown? You can convey this information via actions, dialogue or narration.
In addition to showing how characters have changed, use the ‘5 w’s’ – who, what, why, where and when – as a whole. Shifting to a climactic location for your closing chapters, for example, adds to the sense of an ultimate destination.
This is what Tolkien does effectively in his Lord of the Rings cycle. Frodo and Sam venture further and further into the heartland of Mordor, the domain of Tolkien’s villain. The change of place – to the homeland of Middle Earth’s malevolence – helps to establish a sense of climax and direction.
Similarly, use shifts in setting along with character goals and motivations to show that your story is reaching its final destination.
A bad ending that fizzles out or miraculously rescues characters from a tricky situation can ruin a good book. Anti-climax, of course, is a valid literary device in itself. For example, Kazuo Ishiguro makes the reader expect a major event in his novel The Unconsoled , only for it not to happen. Even so, this is a risky path to take as some may see not delivering what you have foreshadowed as a cop-out.
When you write your novel’s ending, avoid (or at least put a different spin on):
- Cliched twist endings (e.g. ‘it was all just a dream’)
- Miraculous rescues (lightning strikes the villain just as they’re about to kill your protagonist? Thanks, nature!)
Total lack of resolution/continuity (the protagonist spends the entire novel preparing to face the antagonist but decides to move to the Bahamas instead?)
Think about story ending types that would suit your book
There are many different options when you decide how to end a book:
- The full circle: Everything comes back to the beginning scenes
- The surprise twist: Novels such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn pull the rug out from underneath readers, keeping readers guessing to the end
- The ‘choose your own adventure’: Some novels’ endings are open to interpretation. The reader must decide how to interpret the outcome with fewer certainties
- The ‘happily ever after’: Everything resolves tidily, fulfilling expectations established in the course of the novel
These are just some possible approaches. Think about the structure of your novel. Will your ending make readers see preceding chapters in a new light? Or will it simply confirm the impressions and expectations you’ve fostered up to this point regarding how your story will pan out?
If you’re not sure what type of ending to use, write multiple endings and let them sit a while. Read through your entire manuscript from the beginning and see which flows best and makes the most cohesive sense for your story as a whole.
Writing the end of your novel? Get constructive feedback on your closing chapters from Now Novel’s writing community.
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By Bridget McNulty
Bridget McNulty is a published author, content strategist, writer, editor and speaker. She is the co-founder of two non-profits: Sweet Life Diabetes Community, South Africa's largest online diabetes community, and the Diabetes Alliance, a coalition of all the organisations working in diabetes in South Africa. She is also the co-founder of Now Novel: an online novel-writing course where she coaches aspiring writers to start - and finish! - their novels. Bridget believes in the power of storytelling to create meaningful change.
3 replies on “How to end a book: 8 tips for a rewarding read”
This is the device that Kevin Costner chose in his very disappointing movie, The Postman. All though the movie, we’re waiting for the huge battle between General Bethlehem’s army and the letter carriers. The even line up on opposite of the battle field only to have the climax come via a fight between the unnamed Postman (Costner) and General Bethlehem (Will Patton).
Talk about a disappointing ending.
Good example. I see it has a rating of 6/10 on IMDB – perhaps that’s why.
Loved this blog a perfect guide to end your novel! Thank you for sharing. A great ending of a story is one of the bases of a memorable book. Once readers open a book, they tend to anticipate what the ending will be. Check my blog How to Give a Good Ending to Your Book Series Hope this will help. Thank you.
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How to End a Story: 6 Approaches That Lead to Success
by The Write Life Team | Nov 30, 2021
Learning how to end a story effectively is even more important than learning how to start it.
Both the beginning and end of a work of fiction greatly impact a reader’s level of satisfaction. If the start of your story is weak or unengaging you run the risk of people putting down your book before it even gets going. But a lot of readers are willing to persist even if a story’s opening isn’t really to their taste. A strong middle section and climax can overcome any initial disappointment.
But what if your story finishes on a weak note?
Because it’s the final experience readers have before putting your book down, it leaves a lasting impression. Most people don’t finish books the books they start to read. Those who do are the most invested readers out of everyone who chose your book. It makes sense that they would be strongly let down by an unsatisfying conclusion.
So how can you write an ending to your story that leaves readers satisfied?
Here are six types of story endings that have stood the test of time along with some general tips on ending a story the right way.
6 Ideas to Consider for How to End a Story
Conclude your story in a neat and tidy way
Sometimes, the best way to end a story is by offering a clear resolution that neatly ties up all the loose ends and plot points.
If you’ve ever felt a plotline has been forgotten about or ignored, you’ll know how irritating it can be. Making sure the fate of everyone in your book is clearly explained can avoid that dilemma.
Examples of this type of ending include romances where the characters get together and have no threats to their happiness or unity on the horizon. Or adventure stories where good triumphs over evil and any villains have met definitive defeat.
This type of story ending can be seen as a bit unimaginative but it is the safest option. Going this route avoids the possibility of annoyed reviewers leaving comments along the lines of “but what about so and so character” or “it wasn’t clear to me if there’s still a chance of this or that happening”.
Leave your reader hanging from a cliff
Cliffhanger endings leave some elements of a story unresolved. Deciding to end your story on a cliffhanger is important if you want to leave readers eagerly anticipating the next installment in a fiction series.
It’s important to note that a cliffhanger ending should be a conscious choice. The majority of plot points should be resolved and the ending should not feel like a disappointment. You need to strike a balance between leaving your reader feeling they’ve reached something of a climax while still leaving some story aspects intentionally open.
If you have a rough or even concrete idea of what your story sequel will look like then make sure your cliffhanger ending will segue naturally into the next installment. Or, if you’re unsure of whether a follow-up book is the right route, you can leave the possibility open without committing to it. For example, when George Lucas chose to freeze Han Solo in Star Wars it was due to not knowing whether Harrison Ford would be available for the sequel.
A cliffhanger ending runs a higher risk of leaving readers disappointed than tying everything up neatly. However, when written well, they are some of the most exciting endings possible.
Provide a twist in the tale
A twist ending is a great choice if you can pull it off effectively. This type of story ending can have the highest level of impact but is also very difficult to get right.
Twist endings typically run into two problems.
First, readers may be able to spot your twist coming a mile away. There’s nothing more annoying than a big ‘reveal’ at the end of the story that you predicted back in the first act.
The second common issue is a twist ending that is too unbelievable. If something happens out of nowhere and there was no hints in hindsight readers may fail short change. An effective twist ending, therefore, needs to work on both an emotional and a logical level.
To write an effective twist ending, you want to give a few clues that foreshadow the twist without being heavy-handed or obvious. Ideally, your reader won’t figure out their significance at first, but when looking back will notice there were subtle clues in place. You can also play around with red herrings that hint at an altogether different ending, but be careful about using too many and confusing your reader.
Twist endings are incredibly hard to get right, but if you can manage to write a good one, you’re sure to leave readers thinking about your story long after it ends.
Play around with ambiguity and unreliability
Some readers detest not knowing exactly how a story ends. Others love the chance to come to their own conclusion.
The suitability of an ambiguous ending is also partially down to your choice of genre. For example, romance readers typically want a clear ending where the outcome they’ve been rooting for the whole time is given to them clearly. Readers of a gritty psychological thriller, however, might enjoy having their minds messed with by an ending that doesn’t spell everything out for the reader.
Unreliable narrators are a great fit for ending a story on an ambiguous note. Consider American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis (spoiler alert!).
Throughout the story, we are shown events through the eyes of Patrick Bateman. However, there’s a lot to suggest the ways he’s telling things may not be exactly how they’ve gone down. Ellis doesn’t resolve things either way and allows the reader to reach their own conclusion.
Sometimes, ambiguous endings are truly divisive. Just ask any Sopranos fan. This type of ending is a good choice if you’re confident in both your ability to write it and the likelihood that your readers won’t hate you for it. It’s probably the wrong choice for the majority of stories though.
End on an epilogue
Epilogues can be an effective way of adding a sense of realism or depth to your story. By suggesting that events carried on far after the main action ends, it gives your reader the feeling that the story took place in a believable world rather than one that existed purely to serve the plot.
However, sometimes epilogue endings can feel a little unwieldy and almost tacked on as the author couldn’t think of another way to conclude. For example, Ender’s Game has an epilogue that adds a ton of detail that sort of feels rushed and brief in comparison to the main tale told.
If you want to use an epilogue as a device to end your story, take the time to read a wide range of stories that ended in this way. Read those that are well-reviewed and those that are hated alike. This breadth of reference will allow you to identify the type of endings that work well so you can try and apply their principles to your own story.
Choose a cyclical ending
If your story begins and ends similarly, giving readers the feeling that events have come full circle, you’ve employed a cyclical ending.
A cyclical ending isn’t the same thing as simply ending things as they started. Even though the story might begin and end in the same place, the readers should have been on a journey alongside the characters who have developed or learned something along the way.
One example of a cyclical ending that many people will be familiar with from school is Of Mice and Men. The story starts and ends in the same location which is said to be symbolic of the inescapable fate of its main characters constrained by the lot life dealt them.
Now that you know six proven ways to end a story satisfactorily, let’s look explore the concept of effective endings in more detail.
Story Ending FAQs
How do you end a short story.
You can end a short story in all of the same ways that you can end a full story. An epilogue ending is perhaps a less likely choice due to the constraint on length you’re working with but is still technically possible.
What is the ending of a story called?
You might see the ending of a story referred to as its climax , conclusion, denouement, or simply ending. These terms are all slightly different in meaning although they are often used interchangeably.
How do you write a sad ending?
Sometimes, sad endings linger in our hearts and minds in a way that happy endings don’t. Think about the power of Romeo and Juliet’s ending, for example, or the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist. Writing a sad ending to a story requires the readers to care about the characters. A sense of avoidable tragedy can often increase the emotional gut-punch of this type of ending.
How do you end a children’s book?
The end of a children’s story should be appropriate for the age of its readers and the overall tone of the book. Gritty twists or sad endings are, unsurprisingly, not the way to go here. Younger readers often prefer a neat ending that leaves them feeling as if everything has been explained. You can still use a surprise ending, but it should be a fun and happy surprise!
You now have six different answers to the question of how to end a story as well as some tips for different genres and styles of writing.
It’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to end a story. Multiple types of endings could work for your story. It comes down to your ability to write them well and to satisfy your readers.
If you’re unsure of the right type of ending for your story in particular, feel free to jot down ideas for each of the six different types but applied to your work of fiction. Which feels most suitable? Get feedback from people whose opinion you value and see which type of ending they feel would work well.
Take as long as you need to write and rewrite your ending. Getting it right is crucial if you want to get good reviews and leave your readers with a positive impression of you and your work.
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The Dos and Don'ts of Novel Endings
- Author: James V. Smith Jr.
In learning how to end your novel with a punch , it's important to know what you can and can't do to write successful novel endings that attract agents, publishers, and, most importantly, readers. Here are the dos and don'ts of writing a strong closer.
The Dos and Don'ts of Novel Endings
Don’t introduce any new characters or subplots. Any appearances within the last 50 pages should have been foreshadowed earlier, even if mysteriously.
Don’t describe, muse, explain, or philosophize. Keep description to a minimum, but maximize action and conflict. You have placed all your charges. Now, light the fuse and run.
Do create that sense of Oh, wow! Your best novelties and biggest surprises should go here. Readers love it when some early, trivial detail plays a part in the finale. One or more of those things need to show up here as decisive elements.
Do enmesh your reader deeply in the outcome. Get her so involved that she cannot put down your novel to go to bed, to work, or even to the bathroom until she sees how it turns out.
Do resolve the central conflict. You don’t have to provide a happily-ever-after ending, but do try to uplift. Readers want to be uplifted, and editors try to give readers what they want.
Do afford redemption to your heroic character. No matter how many mistakes she has made along the way, allow the reader—and the character—to realize that, in the end, she has done the right thing.
Do tie up loose ends of significance. Every question you planted in a reader’s mind should be addressed, even if the answer is to say that a character will address that issue later, after the book ends.
Do mirror your final words to events in your opener. When you begin a journey of writing a novel, already having established a destination, it’s much easier to make calculated detours, twists, and turns in your storytelling tactics. When you reach the ending, go back to ensure some element in each of your complications will point to it. It’s the tie-back tactic. You don’t have to telegraph the finish. Merely create a feeling that the final words hearken to an earlier moment in the story.
Don’t change voice, tone, or attitude. An ending will feel tacked on if the voice of the narrator suddenly sounds alien to the voice that’s been consistent for the previous 80,000 words.
Don’t resort to gimmicks. No quirky twists or trick endings. You’re at the end of your story, and if your reader has stuck with you the whole time, it’s because you’ve engaged her, because she has participated. The final impression you want to create is a positive one. Don’t leave your reader feeling tricked or cheated.
Discover how the seven core competencies of storytelling—concept, character, voice, plot, theme, scene construction, and style—combine to create compelling narrative.
Click to continue.
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Write the Perfect Ending: 6 Ways to Satisfy Readers
Consider this your brainstorming session. Learn from these examples how to end a story, and try to imagine how you would write each of them. Some of them might not work for your story, but at least one will. Try out a couple styles and see what you like!
Types of Endings:
1. The Classical Ending
Traditionally, this ending appears in longer works, like novels, rather than short stories. There’s also a long history of Classical Endings in mystery novels and children’s books, although that’s certainly not the only place they show up.
By using this type of ending, your reader is more likely to come away from your work feeling warm and satisfied, like their time was well spent. However, depending on how the first 90% of your piece goes, an ending complete with a bow may not be the most artistically sound way of doing it.
- Watership Down by Richard Adams
- Any of Grimm’s Fairy Tales
2. Cliffhanger endings
With that in mind, please don’t take your reader’s attention for granted here. They might know that another installment is coming, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to read it. With this ending, your goal is not to completely satisfy the reader, but rather to excite them and encourage them to pick up the next installment. If your ending doesn’t give them a reason to want the next book, then they really aren’t likely to search it out.
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
- Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
3. Ambiguous Endings
The ending is implied. As the writer, you’re asking the reader to fill in the blanks and decide for themselves what really happened in the end.
Writers often manage it by withholding information and allowing two or more possible explanations to exist in the reader’s mind after the ending is complete. When done right, the reader will be forced to think critically about the narrative and come to their own conclusion. However, you also run the risk of leaving the reader frustrated and unsatisfied.
Raymond Carver actually manages this very well in his short story, “Fat”. He narrates an interaction between a waitress and a notably fat customer. The customer refers to himself as “we”, references his past, and relates to the waitress’s desire to become fat. After their interaction, the narrator returns home to her boyfriend, whom she doesn’t appear to be happy with. Instead of addressing any of this, Carver instead ends the piece by saying:
“She sits their waiting, her dainty fingers poking her hair.
Waiting for what? I’d like to know.
My life is going to change. I feel it.”
- So were the animals just metaphors for humans or not?
- Such an abrupt ending. What exactly happened to the characters?
- What exactly did the Judge do to the Kid in that outhouse? (And the epilogue is mysterious, too)
- The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C Clark
- Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
4. The Twist
This is what you hope every reader will say when they read this type of ending. Of course, you also hope they will think it’s believable.
This is the ending that you use once you’ve laid the groundwork and guided the reader comfortably and securely to the end of the book, only to toss them off a cliff at the last minute, leaving them startled and hopefully in awe.
When done well, the reader may just applaud you. When done poorly, they’re often left feeling cheated.
The important thing to remember with this ending is that you won’t fool everyone. Even as you lure your reader to one conclusion, you need to be dropping enough hints along the way so your real ending will still make sense. Those hints should go unnoticed by most of your readers the first time round, but you’ll never get all of them. Just make sure that for those that realize, it’s just as good of a ride for them too.
- Any Game of Thrones (not that he always uses it as an ending)
- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
5. The Tie Back
With this ending, the reader already knows that John Smith is bleeding out on the side walk. In fact, they’ve known since the first thirty pages of the book. With the Tie Back method, you intentionally showed your audience part of Mr. Smith’s future, hoping that they would be interested enough to find out how he got there. But now that you’ve reached the end, it’s time for you to revisit that initial scene and give your readers context.
When done correctly, this type of ending/beginning creates a balanced feel for your writing. Although it can sometimes undermine the suspense of the scene, if you’re clever you can still and twists and changes through context.
- The Star by Arthur C Clark
6. The Skip Ahead
J.K. Rowling famously used this ending when she showcased her wizard heroes 19 years after Voldemort’s death. Similar to the Classical Ending, this leaves the reader with the sense that the narrative ark is complete in almost every aspect, and that the heroes live happily ever after. While there is some debate among fans regarding just how necessary this section was, it does provide the right amount of closure considering the amount of time and commitment the readers put into the series.
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
How do I Pick an Ending?
Excellent Question. Here are 3 questions that should help you figure this out.
Do you dream of making your reader’s cry? Or are you hoping to leave your audience with a wistful smile? Your answer to this question should really play into which of the templates you draw the most upon.
Just for fun, play around and write a few different endings with different emotional goals in mind. Think about how you would achieve each of them and how well they could each apply to your story.
If your answer is no, then congratulations you can probably skip this question and carry on with your previous train of thought. If yes, then which plot lines are you going to wrap up and which ones are you going to leave open? Why? How does that help you later on in your next installment? Do your best to think critically about the artistic choices you’re making and why they work, not only in this novel, but within your whole series.
3. What questions do you want the reader to be asking themselves?
If the reader is going to be having questions regardless of what you do, I figure you may as well encourage the reader to ask the right questions. What sort of things should the reader perfectly understand in you ending? What exactly do you want to make ambiguous? Why? If you’re leaving the reader with questions in their mind after the narrative comes to a close, it needs to be with good reason.
What genre are you writing in? Will you comply with the tropes that come with that genre?
Depending on what you’re writing at the moment, they might just be some pre-existing ending tropes already in existence (think: Romance/lovers kissing at the beach). Brainstorm a few of those tropes and then ask your self if you want to use any in your novel or short story. Do you want to contradict any of these tropes? Why is that? How does it add to your story?
2. Try writing 3 different endings, imagining two of them will be included in the “Director’s Cut” of your novel. After you write all three, give them to a friend who has read the book and ask them which one is their favorite.
3. Pick your 10 favorite novels/short stories and figure out which of the above categories their ending fits inside. Whichever ending your favorite novels do most often, try to write that type of ending for your novel or story.
Final Tips on How to End a Story:
- Make it satisfying. Your reader has stuck with you this long; they deserve it.
- When in doubt, tie up your loose ends. Unless there’s a strongly compelling reason not to, this will generally make your ending feel more like an ending.
- Keep everyone in character. If it doesn’t make sense, it will ruin the whole moment for your poor reader.
- Deliver that emotion. Now is the time for the tears.
- If you’re feeling a little lost, then try to leave your reader feeling the same emotion as the hero.
- The Millions has a great article with lots of examples of endings in literary works .
- The five types of twist endings .
- The best ways to end a book … and the worst ways.
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How To End A Story (Steps & Examples To Satisfy Readers)
Posted on Mar 2, 2023
by Sarah Rexford
Have you ever turned the page in a book and been disappointed that you’re on the final one?
A good book can never take too long to finish. What makes a great book comes down to many varying factors, but a great ending can make or break the entirety of a book.
Knowing what kind of ending is best for your story is part of the responsibility and pleasure of being a writer. It’s up to you to play around with varying endings and choose what is best for your story.
While there could be many good endings for your story, there is only one best ending.
This guide to how to end a story covers:
- Elements of a good story ending
- Don’t break the tone or voice of your story
- Write an ending readers don’t expect
Take your time, but not too much
- Reveal your ending, don’t tell it
- How to end a story that leaves readers satisfied step-by-step
Examples of good story endings
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You’ve probably read an ending that you couldn’t forget for days and even weeks after finishing the book. Maybe it was sad in the best way possible, it was comedy that you just couldn’t forget, it was a profound statement that has rolled in your head since, or the author revealed a plot twist you never saw coming . . . but somehow still made complete sense.
You’ve also probably read an ending that made you put the book down in frustration . For the reader, there is not much worse than a terrible ending. There’s nothing quite like dedicating hours of time to reading a book only to finally reach the finish line and be disappointed.
While bad endings are not fun to read, they can help writers know what not to do. However, it can be much more enjoyable to look at what makes a great ending and read through examples of great endings.
Writers are often encouraged to pour themselves into their opening line, paragraph, and pages.
It’s crucial for readers to maintain the same skill and dedication for their endings as they do for their openers . If an opener is about grabbing the reader’s attention from sentence one, page one, then endings are about keeping the reader’s attention. Satisfy your readers so well they think about the book long after they close it.
There are a few different types of endings. Traditionally, there is comedy or tragedy. Today you could end with a sad ending (tragedy) that hangs with the reader and makes them think. You could end with a twist that surprises the reader and leaves them stunned but pleased. You know you’ve done your job when a reader walks away saying, “I never saw that coming!”
Every book is different, therefore every ending will need to be different. Choose what’s best for you and your story!
When it comes to learning how to write a great ending well, let’s start at the beginning.
Elements of a good story ending
The elements of a great story ending vary depending on the genre that you write as well as the purpose of why you are writing.
If you write young adult science-fiction, your ending will incorporate different elements than if you write historical middle-grade fiction. The same can be said for nonfiction , sub-genres, etc.
However, there are some key factors that should be noted when deciding how to wrap up your previous 50-100 thousand words .
Don’t break the tone or voice of your story
First, if you’re writing middle-grade fiction from the perspective of a young, energetic child, it’s important to write an ending that fits his personality. Regardless of what your specific ending looks like, it should be portrayed through the eyes of your prospective character.
This does not mean that you should not include a dramatic character arc from first page to last. A great character arc is one factor contributing to a great story. If your character has changed from page one to the last page, that will be a great benefit to your story. Simply keep in mind the tone of your character, as well as the voice of your story.
Write an ending readers don’t expect
Second, don’t give your readers the ending they expect, but don’t completely surprise them in a way they can’t recover from. Plot twists and surprises are part of the fun of writing, but they should not be done so dramatically the reader can’t recover.
The reader should join the protagonist on the journey throughout the book, but they should still feel part of the same story at the last page. When you’re deciding what ending to include, brainstorm.
Whatever your first idea is, write it down, but don’t stop there. Go further. Think of a second idea. Then think of a third idea. Don’t choose the default ending. You’re the creative and you get to decide how to write a creative ending that both fits with your book but also satisfies your reader.
Third, ensure you give your ending the appropriate amount of time to tie up all the loose ends and give your reader a satisfactory ending. The reader should not feel whiplash closing the book. They should be able to discern that the story is wrapping up and the character has completed the quest, goal, or mission, and changed because of it.
Think of an ending as a goodbye between your character and the reader. Too short of a goodbye and your reader will not feel any resolution. Too long of a goodbye and you could negate the power of your ending.
Reveal your ending, don’t tell it
Readers read to imagine a story world in their head, not to be told what happens. The adage, show don’t tell , can be applied to your entire manuscript, but specifically to your ending.
While it may seem simple to sum up the ending of your fiction or nonfiction book by simply telling what happened, this isn’t fair to your reader.
They’ve invested their time in reading your book and now it’s time to pay off their investment by showing, not just telling, a memorable ending.
Give the reader time to enjoy their investment and sit in the payoff they’ve read the entirety of your book to reach.
Depending on your specific manuscript, a short epilogue may be necessary but ideally, you will want to show your endings rather than sum them up. This gives honor to the reader and their time investment, as well as demonstrates your writing capabilities.
Show your ending in a way that satisfies, then write that last sentence and let the reader go.
How to end a story that leaves readers satisfied, step-by-step
How to end a story depends on the genre you write. If you’re writing nonfiction, your ending will look quite a bit different than if you write fiction. However, fiction techniques are often applied to nonfiction. Both are a story, one is simply true and one made up.
Regardless of your genre, ending a story in a way that leaves readers satisfied is generally dependent on a few key steps.
It’s imperative to be aware of all the loose ends you need to tie up. Whether you’re writing a standalone novel or a series, fiction or nonfiction, make sure you leave the reader satisfied with answers, not asking questions.
Finalize your character arcs in a way that makes sense for your story. If you’re writing fiction, make sure your characters have grown in the appropriate way. If you’re writing nonfiction, make sure your protagonist, whoever that is, has had a successful character arc. Growth needs to be revealed by the last page, regardless of genre.
Write the ending you want to write. Many endings could work for your story. But there is likely one that is best and that you want to write. Write the ending you’re most passionate about.
Passion reads well.
The following are some examples of great story endings. *Spoilers ahead!
The Catcher in the Rye , J.D. Salinger
“It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
Notice the tone of the last lines. Your ending should reflect the tone of the rest of your book. This helps the reader feel that resolve, even on the final page.
A Christmas Carol , Charles Dickens
“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!”
Notice which perspective character Dickens chose to use, and the optimism he ended with.
The Handmaid’s Tale , Margaret Atwood
“Are there any questions?”
This is an ironic way of nearly breaking the fourth wall and ending the story, while also inadvertently asking the reader: Do you have any questions?
The Nightingale , Kristin Hannah
“Wounds heal. Love lasts. We remain.”
Summing up an entire novel in six words takes talent. It gives credibility to what the protagonist has been through, shows the resolve at the end of the story, but alludes to the fact that long after the book closes, the characters still remain.
Atomic Habits , James Clear
“Tiny changes. Remarkable results.”
These four words are essentially the book idea boiled down to a motto. If you write nonfiction, try doing this for your manuscript.
Bird by Bird , Anne Lamott
“You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
This is a fantastic summation not just of what the book was about, but the why behind writing it.
We Were Liars , E. Lockhart
“I suffer migraines. I do not suffer fools. I like a twist of meaning. I endure.”
Similar to the ending in The Nightingale , this ending calls out the plot twist while showing the growth of the character.
How Far You Have Come , Morgan Harper Nichols
“The questions kept me trusting the journey home was worth living for.”
Nichols’ entire book is poetic prose, and she stays aligned with the tone of her book by following the same voice all the way through the last line. She also leaves a touch of hope at the end.
As you read the above examples, notice the tone in each one.
They differ depending on the genre of the book, but many of them also include a profound statement.
You could end your book with a statement similar to one of the above: Narrative, inner monologue, or even dialogue as Atwood did.
Whatever method you choose to take, remember that you can always change it. All writing is rewriting and it is perfectly normal to edit an ending until it looks completely different than it did the first draft.
Some of the best endings have likely seen the most edits.
Best wishes on your ending and you make it shine!
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Readers are interested in good, satisfying writing, not incomplete writing …
No matter if you end on a cliffhanger or tie up your story with a nice neat bow, a necessary element to your third act is the resolution. This is the time and space where you show what the characters’ lives look like after the main conflict of the narrative is resolved. A good rule of thumb to know if your resolution is working or not is to consider whether your story feels complete. Going back to the cliffhanger, even if you end your story on an unknown, the main premise of this novel – whether it’s a standalone or the first, second, third, etc. one in your series – should achieve resolution.
A common misconception is that when you’re writing a series, the first book does a lot of set up and plot threads don’t have to find resolution because they’ll be answered in the next book or the book after that. Even if you’re planting the seeds of a through line for your series at large, each individual novel has to find some kind of resolution to the main plot. Readers are interested in good, satisfying writing, not incomplete writing.
Testing the Message
Every story should have a theme , or as I look at it, a point. You should know the purpose your novel is going to serve at least by the end of the idea phase. Of course, once you get into the writing, sometimes the message grows and changes, but setting out with a clear message will help guide your focus. This message is teased out as the characters undergo their experiences, and it should be accentuated in the third act, usually around the climax and in the fallout after.
I refer to that period of time from the climax to the resolution as testing the message. A basic example would be a story about an addict. The story is spent with them quitting and recovering from their addiction. What will accentuate the lessons they learned, maybe the self-worth that they find, and however they grow through that journey will be a moment near the end of the story when they face a trigger and have to apply their new knowledge to either stay strong or relapse. That moment will test the message, and whether they succeed or fail depends on the story you’re writing.
Something important to keep in mind is that you never want to preach your message. Your ending should not be some blatant obtuse monologue about how at the end of the day you just have to do your best and then you’ll be your best or she had to love herself first before someone else could ever love her . If you reach the end of your story and feel like you have to sum up the point, then that means the message isn’t strong enough throughout the plot as a whole to speak for itself – which means you have some revising to do.
The End of the Arc
Additionally, when you’re testing the message, think about your plot arc. Whether your novel is character driven or plot driven, someone or something should have transformed and grown – for better or worse – over the course of the story. Your resolution should highlight the shift between who they/it were/was in the beginning versus now.
How To End A Novel With Emotion
Going back to the idea of last impressions, how you end your novel is how your readers are going to feel when they put the book down. When you approach your end, ask yourself how you want readers to feel. That emotion should be at play in the narrative itself. If you want readers to feel happy, then your ending might look like a neatly wrapped present. If you want readers to feel sad, then maybe someone dies or the character tests the message and fails. Whatever you decide should feed the takeaway for your story.
Essentially, if your ending doesn’t evoke an emotion from your reader, then the narrative isn’t going to stick with them. If your reader puts the book down and they still feel something from the ending, that means your narrative resonates. One way to look at it is that the longer your story stays with a reader, the greater chance there is of them talking about it with someone else, and then maybe that someone else will go out and buy your book, too!
I’d be happy to work with you on your novel! Visit me at Good Story Editing for a full range of editorial services.
Rhiannon graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2018 with a bachelor’s in English literature and writing. When she’s not reading or editing, she can be found writing YA novels. She spends her free time hiking with her dog, Ernesto, and perfecting the art of making vanilla lattes.
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6 Ways to End a Book in a Series
Here are six ways to end a book in a series.
Many of the most popular authors, both traditional and indie, founded their success on the strength of a series. A successful series takes on a life of its own, and often spawns its own fan community. The stakes are high, so finding the right method for closing each of your series books might take some extra effort, but it’s well worth it.
I think everyone has read a series book with an unforgettable ending. Please share your favorites in the comments below.
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Author: Robin Rivera
Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, an educator and historical consultant. She writes dark young adult fiction, with diverse characters. She's currently querying a novel, and working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/robin.rivera.90813) or on Twitter @robinrwrites. However, Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/RRWrites/) is where her inner magpie is happiest of all. View all posts by Robin Rivera
16 thoughts on “6 Ways to End a Book in a Series”
A great ending of a story is one of the bases of a memorable book. Once readers open a book, they tend to anticipate what the ending will be. Thank you so much for sharing this perfect steps on how to end book endings <3. This is a great help.
When I saw forgone conclusion, bells went off but I wasn’t sure. I googled it, and it’s foregone, not forgone? All grammar geeks aside, I wanted to thank you for your article. I wrote the entire thing in a period of months (historical romance in 1897 England) and realized that it was nearly a 300,000 word count that nobody (in their right mind or otherwise) would ever publish. I split it into a trilogy but I had and have so much happening, Book One is at 105,000 and I lack the space to finish it and still have it at a readable level, but it’s been critiqued, tweaked, edited, and cut to the marrow. The ending is HFN (happy for now) but with an as yet unsolved mystery. Could I be forgiven if I offered both books at the same time, or a glance at Book Two’s first chapter and a definite pub date in say three months – in the back of Book One? HELP.
Caden St. Claire
Hi Caden, One of the many joys of blogging, the odd typo is always cropping up. While I don’t think 100,000 is too long for a historical novel (readers expect them to be longer) I would still say keep book two as a separate unit and release it about six weeks later. Absolutely add a chapter (or two) from book two at the back of book one. It’s such a common feature and it’s one I totally enjoy. I’m sure other readers feel the same way. Good luck with the book launch.
I seeded my WIP with a tragedy in the live of the MC, to be explained in a prequel.
Great, concise ways to end a series. I’m researching endings for a class I’m teaching, and your breakdown is definitely something I’ll point my students towards.
I’ve laways wanted to write a series, and in fact it’s what I’m attempting to do with my next project. My problem is that I hate series that meander around, with ever new elements, becuse they always give me the feeling they are not telling a story, but they are just gambling along. There won’t be definite characters’ arc and there won’t be any kind of definite conclusion. It’s a bit like cheating, in my opinion.
I like stories that are complete. They may take a long time ot complete, but they finally come to that point. Stories are not real life. They don’t (or they shouldn’t go) on randomly. They must have a point, and that point only exists if the story has been planned from the beginning.
Anyways… I’m going off track 😉
I like your breakdown of the possible methodes of ending a novel in a series. I prefers stories that end with soem kind of resolution, or I feel cheated (that’s why I don’t particulalry like cliffhangers either and they actually tend to turn me off). I’d say my favourite – both as writer and reader – is the ‘make it a foregone conclusion’. It’s the more organic way, in my opinion 🙂
This is such a hard thing for writers to do, yet it is so important. I’ve read series books where too much is left unresolved, to where it feels like “why did we even read book one, when clearly all the action that leads to a resolution is going to happen later?” They are so focused on pacing a book out as a series that they don’t pace the book as a single book, which can be very frustrating, especially when the next book isn’t out yet.
Thanks for gathering all these options in a single post! Very convenient. 🙂
I think you’re right about that. I hate it when authors try to stretch out a story to fill a series and the plot can’t sustain it. They need to be fair to the reader. If they can’t give the reader a good story in every book, they’re doing something wrong.
And I wonder sometimes if they just aren’t starting in the right place, if they’re giving us a prequel, that sets up the main action and fills in how the characters got there, instead of giving us the main story in the first place. I think there is a place for prequels, to give us backstory and let fans of the main story see what came before, but I don’t think a series should start with that part of the narrative.
Avoid the Cliffhanger like the plague! THis only really works where the next book in the series is already slated for publishing. Now Tolkien’s method works because LOTR was written as a single book, not three, it was more by the request of his editors and publisher that forced him to ivide the story into three books. THis is actually true for a great many successful fantasy and sci-fi series. The other parts were already written.
THe Twist ending however can be considered a crime against your reader and while it can pique interest in the next book it creats an odd problem in that the book they’ve just read, cannot stand on its own and worse…it creates growing annoyance when the next book is delayed or worse never comes. In such scenarios the ending becomes a promise and betrayal rolled into one and your readers will resent you for it, it will make your name a black mark on any book you publish. Not to mention it will retroactively hurt and keep new readers from getting into the series at all if they know it ends on a cliff hanger that will never be resolved.
So the best way. Either conceive your books as individual stories that share the same background, characters and places, or conceive and write your series as one novel that you then cut to multiple parts.
I don’t think there is “best” way, it all depends on the story. You can find good and bad examples for each of these methods. Thanks for dropping by.
I love the endings of each of the books in Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ series – he ties some things up but still leaves you dying to know what happens next!
Hi Susie, I happen to agree with you, Pullman is very good at binding his books together.
This is a terrific article, Robin. Making sure any book has a great ending is important, but for a book that’s part of a series, it’s essential. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the series I remember best. The plot of each story was complex because so many people were involved, but not every character cared about the problems of other characters. Larsson managed to carry the issues from book to book by solving parts but leaving the overarching problems intact with the MCs still in pursuit of solutions. Each book had me on the edge of my seat throughout and looking forward to the next in the series.
Thanks, Sharon. I think that is a perfect suggestion. That book was on my series book list, but I just forgot about it as I was writing this. Thanks for reminding me.
Thank you for an informative post. I am on the third historic novel in a series on a late 1800’s family. I have researched them for 12 years and was told by descendants I would never find enough to write a story, let alone a novel. In saying that, I did not start out to write a series but found so much on an amazing life that was tied to many notorious and famous people that it has turned into a four-part series. The woman’s life was full of courage and tragedy and the natural breaking point at around 150000 words was always at a cliff hanger. I have gone with that out of somewhat of a necessity to stay true to her story. But I always question leaving my readers hanging. In researching and writing, I have found that there are many ways to make a story work well and when I fill my head with worry over doing it right, my writing suffers. I like that you give several ways for endings to go and tie to the next book. As authors we must often follow our gut and follow our characters lead. Thank you
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6 Clever Ways To Achieve The Perfect Ending To Your Story
You’ve done all the hard work. The amazing story you’ve been writing is 99% finished; now you just have to end it. Cue aimless staring at the computer screen, right?
Ending a story can be an excruciating and frustrating experience. We all want that perfect conclusion, one that complements and fulfils the purpose of the story.
There’s nothing on Earth like really nailing the last line of a big book. You have 200 pages to tickle their fancy, and seven words to break their heart” – Alex de Campi
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We especially want an ending that leaves ourselves and our audience satisfied. Achieving this is not as easy as it sounds; an ending takes on a lot of gravity when you realise there’s no coming back once it’s done.
Often, a reader’s most long-lasting memory of your story will be its ending, so it’s important to agonise over it just as much as you did your faultless first paragraph.
Thankfully, there’s a limit to the numbers of ways you can tie up your tale.
The way your piece ends should largely be connected to how you’ve written the rest of the story.
You should know what you were trying to say when you set out to write, and thus have an idea of the impression you want to leave when the story is over.
There is a theory that stories can only have five possible outcomes , but to make things even easier, here are six specific types of endings you can consider to help you finish your masterpiece.
1. Resolved ending
A resolved ending is great if you want everything neatly packaged and put away.
All the plotlines and character threads are concluded. There’s no conjecture and no questions to be asked. The fate of everyone in the story is known and it is clear how the characters might live on into the future. This is good if you are writing a singular novel or concluding a series.
Examples that immediately come to mind are mysteries. Despite the bulk of a mystery novel being clouded in suspense and confusion, everything is illuminated for the reader at the climactic end of the story.
Usually, one or more people unravel the mystery and expose the culprit or cause of distress. A style that commonly employs this ending is the ‘whodunnit’ story; an awesome example to check out is Stephen Donaldson’s The Man Who Tried To Get Away .
Fairy-tales also use resolved endings , almost every time. Don’t be tricked into thinking this type of ending has to be all roses, though. A story can be resolved without being happily resolved. Take a look at these original fairy-tales that aren’t so Hollywood-perfect.
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2. Unresolved ending
This is basically the opposite to a resolved ending. The overarching plot is left unfinished and the ultimate outcome of the characters’ story arcs is unknown based on the textual information.
This might be used to entice readers to use their imagination and create their own ending, satisfying themselves.
More commonly, it’s used to set up for a sequel . References are usually made to tasks still to be done or conflicts still to be determined, essentially making the book one big chapter of a larger story.
Obviously, this is one of the easiest endings to write. Readers understand nothing has to be wrapped up here, but it’s still vital to create a sense of excitement and anticipation using an unresolved ending, otherwise people may not be interested in coming back for the second instalment.
There are plenty of famous examples to pay heed to, such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rowling’s Harry Potter series, or The Chronicles of Narnia books written by C. S. Lewis.
3. Implied ending
This is often the most tempting ending for an author and the most frustrating for a reader.
The conclusion, or ‘what happens in the end’, isn’t explicitly stated or displayed. This is achieved by holding back information or leaving multiple logical explanations up in the air, allowing the reader to make up their own mind.
The audience is refused a fully informed outcome. They may be left thinking a range of questions:
- ‘Did he or didn’t he?’
- ‘Is she alive or dead?’
- ‘Is it that or is it this?’
- ‘Is the narrator lying or telling the truth?’
This ending is very effective because it creates a talking point and keeps the reader pondering long after they’ve put down the book. For an author, this is ideal; if readers are thinking about you, they’ll likely go looking for more of your work.
A terrific example of this type of ending is Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (also made into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio).
In this story, there are two explanations for the reader to consider at the end. One is more implied than the other, but both are feasible.
Lehane has written so masterfully that he effectively teases the reader, leaving them uncomfortably torn between the two.
Personally, it took me a couple of months and a conversation with my mother, who had also read the book, to settle on one ending over the other.
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4. Twist in the tail
In theory, a story that ends in this way catches the audience by surprise with a completely unexpected turn of events.
As a result, the whole story is usually turned upside down, with a previously believed fact turning out to be false.
This may involve a character ‘coming back’ from the dead, a hero revealing themselves as a villain (or vice versa), or a new and vital piece of information coming to light at the last minute.
A ‘twist’ ending is good for playing with readers’ emotions. You can bring them up quickly or send them crashing down, depending on what route you decide to take with your story. Either way, you can cause a dramatic shift in a reader’s attitude.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is a novel (and film) that quickly comes to mind here. The revelation towards the end of the story will have you replaying every previous event in your mind and will completely change your understanding of the novel. Here’s a list , topped by Fight Club , which includes six more of the best plot twists seen in literature.
To put it simply, a story written in this fashion will begin and end in the same way. The ending is revealed first before the author fills in the details of how that ending came to be. While this may take away some of the suspense for a reader, a clever author is still able to introduce twists and surprises.
A tie-back ending also allows for a very focused method of writing – it’s always easier to navigate if you know where you’re going, right?
It also creates a feeling of balance and equilibrium for the story.
American author Kurt Vonnegut had many tips for writers , including that they should ‘start as close to the end as possible’.
The Star by Arthur C. Clarke is a nice short example of a tie-back ending; the beginning shows a main character in pain, and the ending ties back to the cause of his pain. Read it online here .
6. Crystal ball
This conclusion goes ‘beyond the ending’ in a way, looking into the future.
It explains what happens to the characters years after the main events of the story.
Authors and readers alike may think they want this ending – understandably, they want to see more of their favourite characters – but most of the time, it may not really be necessary.
A common way of writing a ‘crystal ball’ ending is with an epilogue.
An example might be a section in which the perspective is from the main character’s child, who was absent from the main story. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows fits nicely into this category, rounding off the series with an epilogue set 19 years after the main story.
So there you have it!
Six endings to consider when finishing your story, novel, or script.
Always remember what you set out to achieve and consider the feelings you want to leave with your audience. Last impressions are just as important as first impressions.
Want more tips and tricks? Click here to learn how to hook your readers .
Dean Elphick is a young creative writer from Wollongong. He draws a lot of inspiration from alternative music, film and nature. He writes fiction and poetry with no larger goals than to make a reader feel something, and hold that feeling after they've finished reading. He uses coastal bike rides to clear his mind and is an animal lover.
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What a Good Ending Should Do · Clearly summarize the book: That's the best thing you can do, not only to deliver value to the reader but also to make the book
If the beginning of a novel draws the reader in and sets the stage for the drama about to unfold, the end must resolve that storyline and
Build to an intriguing climax · Make sure your ending is earned, not improbable · Leave room for readers' imaginations · Review the best novel
Sometimes, the best way to end a story is by offering a clear resolution that neatly ties up all the loose ends and plot points. If you've ever
Don't introduce any new characters or subplots. · Don't describe, muse, explain, or philosophize. · Do create that sense of Oh, wow! · Do enmesh
Sometimes called the Explicit or Resolved Ending, this strategy generally wraps up all the loose ends, and kindly tells the reader that the story has come to a
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The conclusion, or 'what happens in the end', isn't explicitly stated or displayed. This is achieved by holding back information or leaving multiple logical