February 11, 2011

RePost: Ending Your Novel

How do you end your book? You want it to be perfect, but the ending just isn't coming to you.

I'll start with what I do because I never start a novel knowing how it's going to end. (What's the fun in that?)
I usually figure out how it's going to end somewhere past the halfway point. When I want to figure out my ending, I gather information:

  • My characters' values and personalities
  • How my characters interact with each other
  • My characters' goals

Then I need to think about my story. I think about what has changed in the story. My characters have changed, their goals may have changed, the setting may have changed, and the rules of the world may have changed. (Like in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Umbridge changed the rules at Hogwarts, making Dumbledore's Army a pretty scary thing to the people in charge.)

The story (the beginning and the middle) has to matter. So what happened earlier in your book has to guide you to your ending. Otherwise, what's the point in telling the story?

Finally, taking all of this into consideration, I come up with every logical ending I can come up with, including:
  • Good guys win, hands down
  • Good guys win, but with great sacrifice (my personal favorite)
  • The good guys win, but not what they were hoping for
  • The bad guys win, but it's not as much of a victory as they'd hoped
  • The bad guys win, but suffer great losses
  • The bad guys win, hands down
  • **And I always like to throw in: "The planet blows up, killing everyone." It makes me feel better knowing that's an option, even though I haven't used it. Yet.

Then I choose my favorite ending. The one that makes me smile, that ties up all lose ends, that is the most satisfying. If you don't have that happy, satisfied feeling about any of your endings, then I'd suggest you go back and look at your manuscript. Try to find all those little details that might push the story in one direction or another. It might be something you never intended to include.

I'm afraid that's the best advice I can offer from my experience, so I'll leave you with some links. Maybe someone else has a method that works better for you.

Story Logic: A basic how-to for story logic

Hitting the Writing Wall (and how to break through it)

The Rockpile Theory of Plotting (short, but interesting)


Alex said...

"You're filling up my bookmarks quite rapidly," I grumbled to the computer and, understandably, at Emily Casey.

Unknown said...

Haha... sorry. I think. ;)

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