Conclusions can make or break a story for me. They often determine whether or not I’ll read the next book in a series. I think most writers have an intuitive sense for figuring out where the story should end, but I want to break it down into something more tangible.
How can you give an ending impact? Here are some techniques I’ve observed:
One symbol, or moment, from the beginning of the story is repeated at the end. By the time the story is done it means something else completely.
The ending echoes the beginning. It gives a sense that the story has come full circle.
Establishing a new normal
The heroes begin a new life. Sometimes the farm boy returns to the farm. Sometimes the farm boy becomes king. Sometimes the hero decides to set out on a new journey.
It’s a chance to show how the character has been altered by the journey, and what they’re going to do with that new knowledge.
Ending book X in the middle of a multi-volume series
The end tends to fall a lot closer to the climax, and not all plot threads are wrapped up. The new normal points the heroes towards the next part of the journey, and offers a hint of what is to come.
My favorite endings leave a sense of the bittersweet: that sacrifices have been made, but that life does go on. That there’s joy, and hope, and more struggles in store, but after what characters have been through, I know they’ll make it.
The best endings leave me full, and remain with me for days. The best books make me wish they never end, but I know they have to.
That’s the sort of ending I like. What about you?
P.S. If you working on beginnings here are six examples of how to open a novel.