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Ending a Novel

The ending of a novel is when a reader finally gets the closure that they are looking for. They have been reading your cliff hangers and have been hanging off every word. Looking down and the reader notices the thick book has but thirty pages, they are thirsting for more but they know this is it, and are wondering how will it end? Will they cheat and read the last page to see if the hero lives?

Ending a book is the most important part of writing a book. The beginning and middle introduced and kept the attention of the reader now it is time to reward them or maybe you really mess with them. I prefer to end a novel with a climatic scene with an easy ending that rewards the reader.   

In a detective novel this is where the detective finally confronts the culprit, hand to hand combat takes place, perhaps you can throw a cute damsel in for the hero to rescue. A climatic scene is also where the ending of a Villain happens. This dispatch is done in two ways. One way he is taken care of is by being imprisoned in some way. The other is being killed. The first way allows for an easier transition into a sequel. The latter choice means a new villain is needed should a sequel take place.

Once the high level of drama has taken place and the final fight is planned take a look at the scene. A dramatic backdrop to a dramatic scene. In beauty and the Beast there is a reason Gaston and Beast fought in the rain and the battlements of the castle because it set the tone that one of them would die.

There is no better way to end a villain than by pushing him off a building or a cliff. Die Hard another example, a villain falling eighty stories to their death waving their arms and looking into the hero’s eyes as the fall to their end.

That is why I personally think if you are going to have a major fight at the end of a novel there should be some decompression time between the fight and your end. After throwing a bad guy from a building if the hero dusts off his hands and says wow its over. Then credits roll I would feel cheated.

That is why an ending after climax should be written, it does not need to be a novel itself, 1,000 words to 2,000. Discuss what has changed since the fight took place. Use character dialog, it is very easy at the end of a novel to tell a bunch of shit and instead of showing a written scene in a logical and concise manner.

Keep the ending light hearted, don’t toss new mysteries in the ending, likewise don’t sew up any plot points in the final paragraphs, those should have been laid out throughout the story, instead tie up any loose feeling between characters. If sexual tension between two characters has been building allow them to kiss as the last scene.

Your last page will come all too soon, but there is so much more than writing the end. If this is a stand alone novel this last page will be a goodbye to the reader, this farewell should read like any goodbye said to a friend. Allow the words to come from your heart, capture the feelings that you had while writing and pour it into these last few paragraphs.

So once writing the end you are just getting started. For the next month you will read and re read every last line over and over again. Then you will go line by line rewriting it, then finally it is time for the editor. Next time we will discuss the rewriting a novel in depth. Rewriting can save you hundreds in editing costs.