Anyway, I thought I'd do some digging on how to end a story, since all good stories must come to an end at some point. Just for fun, I looked up Twist Ending on Wikipedia. There's a list of goodies you can use in you writing including: flashback, unreliable narrator, Anagnorisis or discovery about a character (think Darth Vader when you discover he's Luke's father), irony, red herring, and cliff hanger.
How do you feel about ambiguous endings or a book where not all the loose ends are tied up? Personally, I think all the ends should be tied in pretty little knots one way or another. Either that, or I'd better be able to tell that the author deliberately left it untied and had a good reason to do so.
I know this could stir up some controversy, but Lost is an example of leaving loose ends that were not intentional. I could go on for days about how frustrating that show turned out to be, but the point is, the writers built up some mystery and left it unsolved. Think what you will about the last episode, but you have to admit: Walt's powers were never resolved and they should have been. The numbers had some supernatural power that was never explained. Claire's baby had some doomsday-bringing powers that could only be tamed if Claire raised him, then he was raised by Kate and nothing happened. Like I said, I could go on for days. But I won't. The point is: sometimes you can leave ends open. Just make sure you do it with purpose.
Jennifer R. Hubbard posted about Tying Up Loose Ends and I completely agree with her. She says:
As a reader, I look for a resolution, a sense of completeness, and yet also a sense of continuity.Holly Lisle talks about a story's "gravity". Basically, that all the elements of the story pull the characters to a surprising, yet logical point. Whether it's a "happy" ending or a "tragic" ending is up to the author. Usually. :) (Sometimes the gravity pulls too hard in one direction and the author has little choice. It has happened before.)