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Posts tagged with: Endings

Endings and Fan Ownership

Ever since the finale of Game of Thrones (and to a lesser extent Avengers: Endgame), I’ve been thinking about endings.  About what makes a satisfying one – and also whether it is even possible for a franchise that built itself around the shocking and unexpected to have a satisfying ending. 

See, here’s the thing.  To me, what made Game of Thrones so compelling, what had people talking about it so much that you HAD to watch it live or you risked spoilers, was not the fact that it was perfect or satisfying.  It was the unanswered questions everyone was speculating about – and the fact that it flew straight in the face of what the “rules” of the genre said would happen.  When Ned Stark lost his head and the Red Wedding decimated the cast, the viewers (at least those who hadn’t read the books) were stunned.  People couldn’t stop talking about it because characters we loved weren’t safe.  Anything could happen.  Those were the new rules.  And so the bar had been raised.  Anything had to happen, because we were no longer satisfied with the expected.  But when you build a story around shock value, breaking conventions, and unanswered questions, how can you possibly craft an emotionally satisfying ending?  Those are two completely different skill sets.

Don’t Be Lazy Now

In the sprints, many authors have announced that they’ve completed their work, first draft or edits. Others are following their footsteps. I thought we’d take this opportunity to talk about endings.

We all know that our endings MUST leave our readers satisfied. The ending can be happy or not. Or, it could leave the reader completely hanging out there with a hundred questions about what happens next, if that is what the reader has expected and will want-think saga.  However, don’t leave the ending up to the reader to draw conclusions. They are the reader, not the author.

Endings need to answer or allude to the resolution of the main character’s conflict. If you allude to the hero’s trumpet but don’t actually show it, this opens the door for disaster to happen in the beginning of the next story, if that is your goal.

As you head toward your end, ask yourself what was the main conflict? Did you resolve it? Remember the hero can win the battle (his priority) but the war can still rage on.

Make the main character the catalyst for the outcome. It is their battle and they are the hero of their story. Make them work to make the things happen in their favor.

Have you read a story where things just came together at the end, tied up with a pretty pink bow? Did you feel cheated, let down? You’ve worked too hard building characters, emotion, and tension, just to tell your characters, to kiss and make-up like children. Don’t come up with contrived details to end your story. Don’t be lazy now.

Don’t end the story using new information that has come out of the blue. Your readers have invested time, getting to know your characters and have racked their brains formulating theories about the outcome, don’t cheat them.

If your ending is going to twist, make sure you sprinkle signs throughout your story. That way, the reader will say the author did warn me, but I let the clues go over my head. They’ll look at the story in a total different light. A light that includes five star reviews. A great example of a twist ending was the movie ‘THE SIXTH SENSE’. If you haven’t seen it, do it. It’s a great study.

And finally, know when the story ends. The reader does not need to know what happens with every character. Once your main characters’ reach their goal, whether they won the battle on a blue star in a galaxy far, far away or lover’s pledge their undying love and go to sleep only to die in each other’s arms, the story is over. It’s time for the reader to feel. Tie up loose ends (brief anti-climax) before the grand climax.

A great ending makes your reader feeling something, good or bad. It makes them think about the story a long time after closing it. It makes them talk about your book to their friends. And it makes them buy your next.

Does anyone have any other advice on writing a great end or examples of great endings?

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