Our job as writers is to reach readers mentally and emotionally. That doesn’t mean simply hooking them at the beginning and hoping they’ll continue to read the rest of the book. We have to follow through and give them not only a riveting beginning and a tantalizing middle, but also an unforgettable ending. We don’t want our readers to feel cheated or that they invested so much time reading the story only to be disappointed by the conclusion.
Good endings sell books. Readers feel emotionally gratified and want others to share that sensation, so they recommend the book to their friends. Not to mention, a satisfied reader will watch for our next novel.
Let’s look at common ending mistakes made by writers.
The Summary: This gives the appearance that the writer is anxious to finish the story and instead of taking the time to show readers how the story concludes, he sums it up in a few pages, paragraphs, or in an epilogue.
The Unbelievable: Conveniently, the villain is swept away by a hurricane and the lovers can now be together. This ending isn’t satisfying because readers want to see the hero/heroine overcome obstacles own their own not by some higher power or coincidence.
Complications: If the author hasn’t set the scene, complications in the last part of the book can throw readers out of the story. Readers want to feel as though they could’ve predicted the ending because the hints were there, even if they didn’t necessarily pick up on them until after they finished reading the book.
Loose Ends: While it’s all right to leave some loose ends, all important plot elements must be resolved by the end of the book (unless a loose end is left as a hook for the next book in a series).
Tomorrow, we’ll look at ending do’s.
Can you think of any other ending mistakes? How do bad endings make you feel?