Thursday, March 22, 2012

THE END...

You may or may not know that my goal is to finish up the first draft of my WIP by the end of this month. 

What does this mean? It means that I am writing "the end" of my book. Some of you may write your books in a different sequence, but mine is going in order. I am a pantser - and while there are certain plots and points in the story that I know... there is a lot of fill in the blank.

This is hard when it comes to the critical end of the story. I don't about you, but the end of the book is detrimental to whether or not I like the book and what kind of review I would give it. For instance... it can be a phenomenal story with fabulous writing and if the author messes up the end... it's all been for nothing. 

The list of "what to do" for the end of your story can be excruciatingly long, so let me just drop a few tips here:
  • Tie up loose ends. All those ends you've had hanging throughout your story, need to be tied up by the end.
  • Don't make it too easy. Make your protagonist work for it. Don't have everything magically turn out perfect. It's lazy writing and not fun to read.
  • Link to your theme. Make sure you've linked to your overlying theme.
  • Don't overdo it. This may sound confusing but if you have to put a ton of explanation into your ending, its going to draw away from the overall climax. These are the moments when I think to myself... Shut up and make your point!
  • Satisfy your readers.  If you're writing a romance we know the couple is going to end up together. You can still be creative in doing so. If you're writing a trilogy, you still need to have a satisfying conclusion while leaving things open for the other books. Find the balance and make sure your reader is satisfied, yet desperately waiting for the next book!
  • END IT... or lead into trilogy. If you're book is a stand alone novel, it needs to end on solid ground. Everything answered, all ends tied. Like I said before... with the trilogy's its a delicate balance. Something needs to be achieved in your book. Some sort of conclusion made, while still leaving something for the next book/s.
There is all sorts of other stuff I could add and we could ramble on about the specifics of each one of these bullet points, but the truth is... you need to make it your own. OWN IT! Be creative and make it work in your own way, using your own voice and talents.

What are your feelings about THE END of a story? Do you ever feel like a wonderfully written book can be ruined by a bad ending?

39 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

Oh yes, I have read many books that have had so much potential to be brilliant, only to find the endings seemed rushed, and it took away all the magic that had been created.

Endings are my least favourite part to write because getting it wrong can mean disaster!

Cortney Pearson said...

Leigh!! This was meant to be for you to post this today! I'm writing my ending right now too, and it's so nerve-racking, just for this fact! I've loved a book all the way through and then hated the whole thing after the ending sucked majorly. Like, have you read the Luxe series? LOVED all the books right until the end of the last book. It ruined the entire series for me!!!

Good luck with writing that ending! :D

Cristina said...

all I can think is OMG she's almost done with means I get to read it SOON!!!!!!!! YAYAYAYAYAY!

Linda Jackson said...

Very good checklist. I came to the end of my wip this week, so I will use your checklist to make sure I'm on target. ...because you are absolutely right--an unsatifactory ending can ruin the whole story.

Congrats on reaching "The End". :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad you're at the end!
Yes, an unsatisfying ending can ruin a book for me. I remember a book by Skipp and Spector where it ended with everyone on earth dying. All that to stop it from happening and everybody died. I was so disappointed.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

For me, endings are the most difficult part and the suck all of the life out of me to get it completed. And then I fuss with the ending for months. I hope yours comes a lot easier.

Emily R. King said...

I like tying up the loose ends of a story. "The end" is like putting a bow on a beautifully wrapped package. It feels so good to be DONE!
Then again, I'm a plotter, so I always know the ending. No surprises, at least for me.

Have fun finishing your draft!

Joshua said...

I'm with you on the ending. I'm also a pantser, and I've changed the ending about 7 times in my head, but haven't gotten there yet. So...we'll see what happens when I come to that part in about 10K more.

S.P. Bowers said...

Congrats on the end! Yes, an ending can ruin the book. It's such a let down to have this beautiful that has kept you up at nights only to get to the end and say, what? That's it?

With my current WIP I wrote the end first then went back and figured out how they were going to get there.

Hope Roberson said...

Writing THE END took me forever! I had it finished (drafted anyhow), but couldn't bring myself to type those six little letters. It felt good when I finally bit the bullet and wrote that! I've promised to never read an author after the horrible ending they put in a book once. It was one of my favorite authors too! Soooo disappointed! Ah man, I better go look at the ending of my ms :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

You did a great job covering it. I used to have an epilogue in A Change of Plans, but once I decided I needed to write one of the secondary character's story, I had to cut it since it told too much about what happened to him. But now there are some unanswered questions. I hope that's okay. =D

Jessie Humphries said...

One if my favorites has a less than ideal ending. I still loved it though. (just hate the ending)

Juliana said...

Congrats on being so close to finishing your manuscript!
It's such a big happening, though, when I type THE END, I'm already thinking of all the revisions and rewrite I'm gonna have to do and feel like my work is just beginning lol
Good luck!

Angela Cothran said...

I'm so excited for you!!! I agree an ending can really mess up a book for me.

(You already know this) I worry about the ending of my MS. I worry that people will hate it, because it is a cliffhanger, but I tried to give as much closure as possible :)

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm guilty of rushing the ending, sometimes. And sometimes I think I finish too early, in my desire not to have a Disney ending.

Your points are very important to remember. And well done for getting to the end!

Joanna said...

Well done on coming to the end, Leigh. I am afraid, yes, I do think a very poor ending can spoil a well written book!

I love your points and I try and end with a sense of inevitability and surprise... but find endings really hard!

Krista McLaughlin said...

That is some great advice. :) I think a great book can be ruined by a bad ending... such as, "It was all a dream".

I really like writing the ending of my book, though I'm a bit nervous for my WIP since I will be making it with a sequel... that will be interesting to end.

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

Nothing ruines a good book for me faster than a sloppy, rushed-feeling ending. Good luck finishing your WIP!

Kelly Hashway said...

I think endings are just as important as beginnings. For one book, I wrote the ending first because I had to get it perfect. It also helped me write the rest of the book because I knew where I was trying to get.

Charlie Holmberg said...

Amen on that second bullet point!

Congrats on coming to the end!

Kelley said...

I love the 'don't overdo it point'. The end doesn't have to end simply but you should be able to explain it simply. The reader shouldn't be left confused. Just give it to them. :)

And yes, the ending is super important. I have two examples recently of this, one good, one bad.

The Scorpio Races was SO SLOW for the first 100 pages. Really, REALLY slow. Thankfully her writing is amazing so I was able to get through it. But oh my gosh. Slow.

However, the ending wrapped up well. The theme was beautifully done and I finished saying 'that was a good book'.

Oppression (#1 in the Children of the Gods Trilogy) did not have a great ending. At least in my opinion. I kind of went...'what? why would it end like that?' BUT I thought the beginning and middle were good. Though I'm not sure if I will read the next one.

So yeah. Endings are HUGE.

Great post Leigh!

Melissa Pearl said...

Great post! I find writing that last line so tricky sometimes.

I agree that the ending needs to be solid. I just read an awesome book, but the ending wasn't what I wanted. It was still a great book and I would recommend it, but I really want to warn people about the ending too :)

Carrie Butler said...

I agree! Trilogies are a balancing act (and quite a challenge). Good luck with your goal! :D

Morgan said...

Endings *are* hard...

The kind of endings I tend to write are one's that ties themselves up, but leaves some lingering "what ifs" ... nothing too big, but enough to let the reader resolve a bit on their own too. I'm okay with the ending being slightly tragic, as long as there's a good theme. ;)

I just finished my WIP myself... !!!!!!

Leigh, I'm sooooo rooting for you! You. Will. Do. This. You will get to that "the end" place and be all crazy giddy and then we'll go out to dinner ;)

Kathryn Elliott said...

Oooooo..the end is near! Very exciting - and yet so scary. You can do it! (Do you have wine? Chocolate? Tums?)

McKenzie McCann said...

I look to end with a sense of satisfaction. There are detailed ways to put it, like you have, but that's my bottom line. I need to feel satisfied, both with what I read and with what I've written.

Samantha said...

I've read a lot of books that I loved everything about except the ending. It's definitely just as important as your first chapter, that's for sure.

You're almost done!!! That's so exciting :D

Halli Lilburn said...

when i get to the end I write frantically, wanting to finish. things feel way rushed so I usually let it sit for a month then I go back and write the ending again, with more patience. the beginning hooks the reader, the ending hooks the follower. keep your readers for life, not just for the book.

Kristin Baker Przybyla said...

Woo! The end! I like seeing things wrapped up satisfactorily, but there's nothing wrong with a little bit of bit of loose ends if there'll be a sequel. Or even if it's the last book, just enough to remind readers that the story will go on beyond the book.

My husband just read book 2 in my Moongate series, and complained about the cliffhanger ending. But I did it on purpose! >:D I asked him if he thought it was too frustrating and if I should change it. He thought about it and said no, he actually thought it was done pretty well. Yay!

Lara Schiffbauer said...

The end totally makes a difference to me, if I'm going to recommend a book or not. I don't know how a pantser goes about it, but I know for me I worried about the end well in advance, and even now still don't know if it is satisfying. Good luck - you can do!! And thanks for putting me in your blogroll! I just saw that. I should get mine going again...

Sarah Pearson said...

*Cough*, Mockingjay.

Tara Tyler said...

the end is prob the hardest thing to write!
a bad one may not ruin a great story, but it will taint it. for example, Divergent's climax and ending didnt flow for me, too many surprises to make it fit, though the book was excellent. ah well

elizabeth seckman said...

Yes, I have loved a book all the way through, hated the end, and that ruined the whole book for me. I mean the end is the grand finale!

Best of luck!

Laura Marcella said...

Bad endings don't completely ruin a story for me. It can be disappointing, but not ruined. I'll still recall how good the rest of the book was despite the ending. However, I'm with you. I want that ending to be great great great!! Anyway, bad endings are so subjective. One person's bad ending could be another person's perfect ending.

Good luck with The End, Leigh!!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Such a good point, Leigh! I feel that way all the time. Several books I've read recently - well-known, well-hyped books - have left me unhappy with their endings to the point where it affects my overall view of the book. I am sure you will get your right, though!!! :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Most definitely. I hope I'm never guilty of that particular writing sin. There is one Very Famous author who I don't read anymore because the endings were not satisfying for me.

Happy Weekend!

Mark Koopmans said...

Congrats Leigh,

Super excited for you and thanks for some awesome tips, which make a whole lot of sense, but are not always employed :)

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I know it's a super exciting time. I hope you were able to typ the end this week.

eva fhadilah said...


Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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