I actually wish I knew how to answer that question.
Endings are notoriously difficult. I know of very few authors who do them well. Some authors keep up a great momentum for most of book, then the air goes out of the story and you’re left with a flat feeling. In fairness, this could simply be because you don’t want the book to end, but still, it’s hard not to feel cheated that the author has dropped the ball.
Then there are authors who deliberately leave the loose ends untied, in the name of art perhaps. I guess they must feel that since life is ambiguous, and art imitates life, they will leave their own work ambiguous too. But it’s maddening for readers.
Those Tricky Endings
The problem for the first set of authors is that they write three-quarters of the book and suddenly realise they need to finish. That’s why endings can feel rushed and incomplete. The second set of authors may feel that the reader can work out for themselves what the ending means.
But I think that if readers have stuck with you to the end of your book, they deserve better. They deserve to shut the book and be satisfied that they know exactly what has happened to the characters they are rooting for. Reward them with an ending that wraps your story up in a bow. There’s no certainty in life, so it’s nice to find certainty in book.
A good ending does not have to be schmaltzy. It just needs to leave the reader with a sense of completeness. And if you can surprise your readers with your ending, so much the better.
Endings that stick in my mind include The Outcast by Sadie Jones, which was a low burner but led to a thrilling climax. The book ended where ti began, but with the characters in a completely different place. The ending of The Kite Runner gives a promise of redemption. And the ending of We Need to Talk About Kevin was one I didn’t see coming.
What endings have impressed you? And what do you do to bring your stories to a satisfying conclusion?