For me, endings have always been the most difficult thing to get right. But a bad ending can ruin an otherwise excellent story. There are all sorts of bad endings. You probably recognise most of these. They don’t really need explaining.
- Is that it?
- So what?
- Where’s the rest?
- I worked that out in Paragraph One.
- Did I miss something?
- What happened to Harry?
- You’ve got to be joking!
So – how do you make sure your ending doesn’t fall into these categories? Here’s a list of types of endings and tips that might help to make them work:
- Circular stories – link the beginning with the end, often by time or place, for example we end up when and where we began.
- Twist – as it sounds. Spring a surprise on the reader, but do give them the clues to work it out.
- Surprise – these are a little bit gentler than a twist. Usually a surprise means some piece of information is withheld from the reader. An agent I once had called it the after eight mint effect.
- Straight ending – these don’t contain twists or surprises but they often contain a universal truth. They are often poignant. Can also be amusing.
- Link the title with the end – these are often stories with a theme, for example, a story called Faith, turns out in the last paragraph to be about ‘faith’.
- Motifs – you might have a running motif through the story, for example a recurring sentence, or a recurring phrase that ties up with the end.
- An off the page end. You finish with a pointer as to where the story/characters will go next. Things aren’t neatly tied up but there’s an indicator that the characters will be ok.
It’s worth remembering the following too:
An ending must resolve the problem you initially set up.
It must be relevant to the beginning.
If you’re stuck for an ending, look at what you’ve written so far. The clues to the end will always be in what you’ve already written.
And while we’re on the subject of endings, did I mention the sequel to Ice and a Slice is out this week. Yay! The Morning After The Life Before is my latest novel and I’m very proud of it. SJ doesn’t quite get the Happy Ever After she thought she was heading for! Nice matching cover for Ice and a Slice too – Can you spot the hidden message in these two covers?
The fabulous covers were designed for me by Peter Jones. Find out more about his book cover designing service here.
The Morning After The Life Before comes out on 5 February 2015 and is available for pre-order here. Ice and a Slice with its funky new cover is available here. They are both £1.99, less than the price of a glass of Chardonnay!