The Hardest Part of Writing a Book: the Ending

As every writer knows, every book you start has to have an ending It has to be as good as your beginning is, maybe even more so since a good ending can make or break a book. Here are what I consider my rules for ending my books:

Know your ending before you start writing. I may be a pantser, working without an outline, but I do know how the story will end. It’s all a matter of happily ever after.

Build tension in the leadup to the end. While I should know how the story will end, the reader shouldn’t. So, to that end, I will add complications, many of which will be red herrings to keep the reader guessing.

Try different endings on for size. I have done this a couple of times. While I found the ending to the original version of Fire Angel, did wrap up the story, I didn’t find it satisfying, so when I got the chance to edit and release the book on my own, I changed the ending.

Leave room for interpretation. This is especially important if you are considering writing a sequel to a book, or if the story is one that continues. In my Harvester Series, the ultimate plot isn’t resolved until the fourth book, The White Dahlia, but in each of the four books, the romance plot as well as that segment of the main plot is resolved. While each book can stand alone, they should still be read in order.

Ensure that your ending makes sense. Nothing annoys me more than reading a book where the ending seemed contrived and leaves me hanging with that What the hell? feeling. If the purpose of the book was to get the hero and heroine to admit their love for one another, this is where you do it.

Evoke emotions. In every book I write, it’s important to me that the reader can identify with the main characters. I like to think that the ending makes the reader smile and gives them a sense of satisfaction. I may toss in an epilogue to peek at the future, but overall, I want to reader to be have that wow, that was wonderful feeling.

Make sure your ending resolves the storyline. Have you ever seen National Lampoon’s Vacation? There’s a scene where he ties the dog to the bumper when they stop. A few scenes later, the leash and collar are still tied to the car, but there’s no sign of the dog. That has been my mantra as a writer. Don’t leave the dog tied to the car and drive off. If you add an issue, you have to resolve it. In other words. This is your gift to the world. Wrap it up nicely and tie it up with a bow.

Don’t forget to check out the latest offerings from the ABB Irresistible Accidental Heroes, featuring Finding Melinda.

See you next month!

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About Susanne Matthews

I'm a retired high school English teacher turned author. I'm Canadian. My husband and I have been married 48 years and have 3 children and 5 grandchildren, as well as 2 step-grandchildren.  I enjoy traveling, especially somewhere warm in winter.

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