The wonderful writing blog Writers in the storm tackled a topic very close to writers’ hearts in ‘Six ways to know you’ve written the perfect ending”.
It seems many authors are concentrated on the exciting beginning. Apparently our attention spans are so short today that a book has to reach out, grab you by the throat and reel you in by the first few paragraphs.
Sometimes, as a reader, I fall for this. But you know what inevitably happens? The book tends to peter out in the last stretch, and wraps up with an ending that leaves me one sorely frustrated reader.
That doesn’t mean the ending has to be of the happy ever after variety, but it does mean that the ending makes sense to your readers, and that it doesn’t feel as if the writer is just rushing along to finish up the novel after he or she has lost interest in the project.
Some aspects of this make this excellent list. This post talks about having a circular ending, so that your ending comes full circle with your beginning. This can be a nice touch.
The post also suggests that while the ending should not be predictable, after the book is done and the reader has reflected on it, it should seem inevitable. This is another excellent point. If something feels ‘off’ about an ending, as a reader it continues to bother me and I keep rethinking why the ending makes no sense. As a writer, I think this is the last thing you want your readers to do. An ending does not have to be happily ever after, but it does have to ‘make sense’ to the reader.
So, readers and writers, what is your take on endings? Do you need happy endings? Do you prefer open endings? Has an ending ever killed a book for you, after you’d invested time and energy in it?