One of the best things I love about stories lately (in both books and movies, and even TV) is that storytellers have gotten over the need to have a happy ending. While we all do love a happy ending and love resolution, the fact is, life doesn’t always give us a happy ending. When you come to the last moments in your book, you need to have an ending that matches the actual story. But how do you go about picking the perfect ending for your story? Let’s talk about that.
I’m a big believer that even if you’re a “pantser” when it comes to plotting, you need to at least know where your story needs to end. There needs to be a goal as to where you push your story. Now, how do you craft an ending that makes sense for your story? There a few big things you need to consider when it comes to picking the perfect ending for your story.
1. Genre Expectations
I want to start with this one first, because this is a bigger concept. Think about the genre you’re writing in. Some of those demand a happy ending – like romance novels. Or if the book ends with heartbreak, there’s going to be a sequel. Readers picking up a romance book naturally assume that everything will work out in the end and it will be a happy one.
With genres like mystery and adventure, there is a little more freedom. Since my main series falls into those genres, I get to play a little with the lines. I’d say most of my books end in a happy medium. Everything is calm, at least for the moment.
While genre expectations shouldn’t fully dictate the ending of your story, you need to be aware of those expectations and keep those in mind.
2. With Genre Expectations, Think About Your Favorite Reads
One of my favorite book series is the Stephanie Plum novels. There are twenty-four novels and almost all of them end in the same way, but with a little shake-up. While I definitely don’t want to go down that route with my books, Evanovich is playing to the reader expectation. At the end of the book, her readers expect that Stephanie is going to go off with one of the two love interests – Ranger or Joe Morelli.
Think back to your favorite books or book series. How do the stories end in those books? Are they happy endings? Or do they have a hint of sadness to them?The ending of your story can be the make or break moment for the reader. Do you know how to pick the perfect ending for your story? Click To Tweet
3. Most Importantly Think of Your Characters
Going back to my main series, Cassie Morgan has had a shitty life. It’s true. So it makes more sense of the ending of a story to be a little shitty. I’m not saying that you need to give your characters shitty endings, but if everything is going wrong, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to suddenly have everything go right.
Or if you’re going with some humor, you could have a happy ending, but make your character almost paranoid about the prospect. You can have fun with your characters.
4. Make Sure Your Ending Makes Sense
This one should be a little obvious, but the ending needs to make sense. If you’re doing a stand-alone story, make sure the loose ends are tied up, to a certain degree. If you’re doing a series, leave enough loose ends that you can come back to them and do a sequel. Ultimately, you know your own story better than anyone else does, especially as you’re writing it. A lot of this is common sense, which you have.
Don’t over think all these rules, because that only makes it harder.
5. Follow What Makes Sense in Your Head and Heart
Not to get cheesy here, but as I said, you know your story better than anyone else. Trust your gut and know that if you end up making a bad choice, at some point your story will tell you. In fact, you probably already know what the story is, even if you don’t realize that you know!