The End – Finishing A Story 5/5/2020

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by Shawn Lamb

For an author, typing The End brings the journey of a novel to a conclusion. Or does it? Creating a satisfying ending can be just as daunting and frustrating as crafting a good solid opening to capture attention. Do loose ends need to be tied-up, all questions answered, or leave them wanting more? The answers are as diverse as the writers, but there are generally accepted rules.

Most stand-alone books are brought to a conclusion, perhaps not the way readers agree with or expected, but what the author wanted. Leaving too many unanswered questions, can cause readers to wonder if the author missed something, and become frustrated.

With a series, some carry-over storylines are acceptable. Even cliffhangers can be used effectively. However, the danger with cliffhangers is losing the audience if too much time passes before the next book is released. classic example of a badly done cliffhanger, is Tolkien’s novel Lord of the Rings. In the first book, Fellowship of the Ringthe story ends in the middle of a fight scene. Bam! No explanation, no resolution, just ends abruptly. Not until the beginning of The Two Towers, do readers learn that Frodo and Sam became separated from the others, Pippin and Merry are captured, and Boromir is killed. Fortunately, the screenwriters moved the conclusion of the battle to Fellowship for a more satisfactory ending.

Each author must examine themes, threads, and plot lines to provide an ending that it relatable to the characters. It should fit the way they behave, think, feel, and how it impacts their lives. Resist inserting something unexpected or artificial that was never set up earlierDoing this, will help avoid writing yourself into a corner where something miraculously is needed to rescue the story. Even in speculative fiction, the fantasitical must fit into established parameters. Using action that isn’t logical to the characters will jolt readers out of the story because they recognize the deviation.

Not all stories need a happy ending, after all, life doesn’t. Even with sober endings, the reader should come away satisfied. It should make sense. Some stories naturally run a course, and the conclusion is easy, others not so simple. It may be better to end on a thought-provoking note than belabor readers with a boring conclusion. If a summary is necessary, be brief and concise.

As the author, you need to enjoy the ride, yet always keep the end in mind, a happy, satisfied reader. 

Short Author Bio: 

Shawn Lamb is a multi-award-winning author with over 20 books in print. She is an event speaker, and writing coach. To learn more about her books visit: www.allonbooks.com   or to contact Shawn for appearances or with writing questions email: shawnlamb@allonbooks.com

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